RiverDogs blast three early homers to take game 1 of championship series
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston RiverDogs opened the best-of-three Carolina League Championship Series with a 7-5 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park on Sunday evening.
The RiverDogs hit a home run in each of the first three innings to erase a pair of early deficits and take the lead for good in front of a raucous crowd of 6,092. The team is one win away from securing a championship for the second year in a row.
Lynchburg grabbed the lead in the very first inning, using three singles against Cole Wilcox, including one of the RBI variety from Junior Sanquintin to move in front 1-0. Carson Williams quickly tied the game in the bottom of the same inning with a solo blast for his first postseason home run.
In the top of the second, the Hillcats collected three more hits against Wilcox, this time scoring a pair of runs to regain the lead at 3-1. Once again, the home team countered with a solo home run in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Spikes hit a ball off of the batter’s eye for his second home run of the playoffs to reduce the Hillcats advantage to 3-2.
Wilcox put up the first scoreless inning of the night in the third to end his start. He allowed three runs on six hits in 3.0 innings. That scoreless frame set the stage for the RiverDogs to take over the lead for good. Charleston loaded the bases with a single, walk and fielder’s choice in which Lynchburg could not get an out. Bobby Seymour tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center field, setting the stage for the biggest swing of the night. With two still on base, Willy Vasquez ripped a line shot over the center field wall to put the RiverDogs in front by a 6-3 tally.
Seymour pushed the lead to four with an RBI single in the fifth inning. Jonny Cuevas came out of the bullpen and held the lead at 7-3 until the sixth. That inning began with Vasquez committing an error on a dropped pop up. Isaiah Greene then lined a double to the left center gap to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. A pair of groundballs to first scored the runners and brought Lynchburg within 7-5. From that point forward, Cuevas and fellow receiver Roel Garcia allowed just two more hitters to reach base for the rest of the night.
The RiverDogs finished with seven hits. Only Oneill Manzueta had multiple knocks, finishing 2-3. The right fielder has five hits during three postseason games. Lynchburg collected eight hits, with two each from Dayan Frias and Greene.
Ballpark FunThe RiverDogs played their final game of the season at The Joe in front of a standing room only playoff crowd of 6,092 that were treated to free T-shirts and $1 beer. Following the contest, the entire team emerged from the home dugout and tipped their cap to those in attendance. The crowd responded with a standing ovation that lasted a considerable amount of time.
The series shifts to Bank of the James Stadium in Lynchburg on Tuesday night for game two. The RiverDogs will try to secure the title with RHP JJ Goss (1-0, 1.50) on the mound. The Hillcats will try to keep their season alive with RHP Trenton Denholm (0-1, 0.00) toeing the rubber. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
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