Cermak’s Round-Tripper Powers RiverDogs Comeback in Home Opener
Charleston, SC- The Charleston RiverDogs started slowly in their home opener against the Columbia Fireflies on Tuesday night. They made up for it with an explosive finish on the way to a 5-3 win in front of 5,898 fans. Ryan Cermak’s go-ahead three-run home run punctuated a four-run sixth inning that turned the contest around.
The RiverDogs (2-1) entered the sixth inning trailing by a 3-0 score and had mustered only one hit to that point. Chandler Simpson opened the frame with a single and quickly stole second and third base to reach three steals on the night. Xavier Isaac joined him on base with a walk and Dominic Keegan followed with an RBI single to put the RiverDogs on the board. Columbia (0-2) pitcher Ben Kudrna struck out Cooper Kinney in the next at bat for the first out of the inning, but immediately fell behind Cermak 3-0. The left fielder received a fastball over the plate two pitches later and drove it over the right field wall to put the home team in front 4-3.
Charleston added an insurance run in the eighth inning to breathe a bit easier. Keegan ripped a triple to dead center field and scored when Kinney lined a first pitch single up the middle.
Reliever Matt Wyatt slammed the door with 2.0 scoreless innings, collecting four strikeouts on the way to his first save of the season. Preceding Wyatt, Sean Harney earned the win with 2.0 scoreless innings of his own.
Columbia jumped out to an early lead with a big first inning against Yoniel Curet. Omar Hernandez singled with one out, but after Lizandro Rodriguez bounced into a fielder’s choice, there were two outs with a man on first. Brett Squires worked a walk which allowed Daniel Vazquez to punch an RBI single into right for the game’s first run. With runners on the corners, the Fireflies pulled off a double steal with Squires racing home as Vazquez advanced to second. The lead grew to 3-0 in the fourth on Ramirez’s RBI bunt single off of Cade Halemanu.
Curet departed after 2.0 innings, having allowed two runs on a pair of hits and four walks. Halemanu allowed the lone run over 3.0 innings with five strikeouts.
Simpson has a hit in each of the first three games and has collected five stolen bases on the season. Keegan added two hits and an RBI. Ramirez and Vazquez each registered two hits for Columbia.
The RiverDogs introduced the 2023 roster to fans at The Joe with plenty of hoopla befitting opening night. The Charleston Southern University band provided music as fans watched a video recapping the 2022 championship season. As each player was announced, they emerged from smoke at the entrance of the dugout to a strong response from the crowd. Right before the team took the field for the first pitch, the team’s 2023 hype video was unveiled and set the tone for the evening.
The series resumes on Wednesday night with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. LHP Alex Ayala Jr. will get the nod on the mound for the RiverDogs with RHP Shane Panzini countering for Columbia. The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a concert tour-themed t-shirt.
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