RiverDogs Set Franchise Record with 86th Win of Season in Columbia

VIDEO: RiverDogs Can’t Hold Late Lead, Drop Third Straight in Extras
VIDEO: RiverDogs Can’t Hold Late Lead, Drop Third Straight in Extras
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 11:01 PM EDT
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Columbia, SC- The 2022 Charleston RiverDogs have won more games than any other team in franchise history. This year’s squad put their name in the history book with a 6-3 win over the Columbia Fireflies on Thursday night at Segra Park. The RiverDogs hit three home runs to erase an early deficit.

Columbia (33-29, 51-77) did most of their damage in the first inning against Nick Bitsko. Javier Vaz singled with one out and advanced to second on Gavin Cross’s walk. A wild pitch from the RiverDogs starter allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Cayden Wallace drove in both with a groundball single into center field moments later.

Bitsko worked 3.0 innings, allowing no further damage. Antonio Jimenez followed out of the bullpen and also worked 3.0 innings, keeping the Fireflies out of the hit column and striking out four. That performance earned him his 11th win and allowed the offense to find their footing against Ben Kudrna. Nathan Perry launched a solo home run in the fifth inning to put the RiverDogs on the board and cut the deficit to 2-1. His long ball was the team’s second hit of the night.

A pair of two-run home runs that couldn’t have been more opposite, allowed the RiverDogs (40-23, 86-43) to grab their first lead and then extend it. Ryan Spikes lined a single to center off of Kudrna in the sixth. Kenny Piper followed with a two-run home run that landed in the seats above the left field wall and gave the visitors a 3-2 lead. In the seventh, against reliever Jack Aldrich, Perry came through again with a leadoff single through the right side. Alejandro Pie came up two batters later and hit a sinking line drive to right center. Levi Usher, the right fielder, made a diving attempt at the ball, but came up empty with the ball rolling through the gap and up against the outfield wall. Pie raced around third and just beat the relay throw with a headfirst dive to complete the inside-the-park home run. It was the first home run of his career.

Now trailing by three, Columbia scratched across their final run of the game against Sean Harney in the bottom of the seventh. David Hollie began the frame with a triple off of Oneill Manzueta’s glove in right. Usher lined a sacrifice fly to left to drive him in and make it 5-3. With two outs, Yeudi Advincola also tripled, but was stranded at third base.

Charleston tacked on an insurance run in the eighth when Piper followed a double by Spikes with a run-scoring single. Working with a three-run advantage, Sandy Gaston was impressive over the final 2.0 innings, striking out five to earn his third save.

The RiverDogs eight-hit effort included two hits from Spikes, Piper, Perry and Pie. Columbia collected five hits, spread evenly among five hitters.

The victory ensured a second straight season in which the RiverDogs were defeated in just one series. The team aims to build on their win total on Friday night in game four against the Fireflies. Charleston will have RHP Over Galue (11-2, 4.10) on the mound opposite Columbia RHP Ben Hernandez (1-6, 4.78). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.