RiverDogs Pounce on Pelicans Miscues in Season-Opening Win
Myrtle Beach, SC- The Charleston RiverDogs opened the 2023 season in the same fashion as the two previous campaigns, with a victory over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Marcus Johnson worked 4.0 scoreless innings to begin the game and the RiverDogs never trailed on the way to a 6-2 win at Pelicans Ballpark.
The RiverDogs (1-0) reached the scoreboard first with help from a key error by Myrtle Beach in the second inning. Dominic Keegan opened the frame with a single to center field and was joined on the basepaths by Estanli Castillo and Carlos Colmenarez, who both worked a walk. Pelicans starting pitcher Grant Kipp struck out Christopher Barete for the second out of the inning and gave himself a chance to escape trouble. It looked like he would do just that when Chandler Simpson rolled a bouncer to short. Cristian Hernandez fielded the ball cleanly, but his flip to second was too high for Pedro Ramirez and two runs scored on the miscue. Ryan Spikes added an RBI single moments later to build a 3-0 advantage.
The lead grew by a run in the fourth inning. Carlos Colmenarez started the inning by drawing a free pass. The walk ended the night for Kipp and brought Saul Gonzalez out of the bullpen for Myrtle Beach. Colmenarez stole second base and moved to third on a groundball by Barete. Simpson made it 4-0 by hooking a single to right field for his first RBI of the campaign.
RiverDogs starter Marcus Johnson was brilliant in 4.0 scoreless innings. Making his debut as a Rays farmhand, Johnson struck out five and allowed just a pair of singles. Jack Hartman followed with a scoreless fifth inning.
The Pelicans (0-1) mustered their only offense in the home half of the sixth frame against Jeff Hakanson. The right-hander allowed a leadoff single to Rafael Morel and then walked Christian Franklin to put two on with no outs. Ramirez put the Pelicans on the board with an RBI single in the next at-bat and Moises Ballesteros followed with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 4-2. Ramirez was caught stealing third base by Dominic Keegan for the second out and Hakanson escaped further damage. The right-hander followed with a scoreless seventh and passed the baton to Junior William who slammed the door with 2.0 scoreless frames to close out the victory.
Charleston would tack on two more insurance runs for good measure in the eighth. The inning began with a two-base error on Franklin who dropped a Cooper Kinney fly ball in center field. Keegan drove Kinney in with a sharp single to right for a 5-2 lead. Later in the frame, a throwing error on the back end of an attempted double play allowed Keegan to race home himself with the final run.
Xavier Isaac and Keegan paced the offense with two hits each. Isaac’s double in the first inning was the only extra-base hit in the game for either team. Simpson stole two bases during his three trips to the basepaths in the contest.
Game two is set for 7:05 p.m. on Friday night. RHP Jonny Cuevas will make his 2023 debut for the RiverDogs. RHP Brody McCullough will counter by making his first start for the Pelicans.
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