Columbia pulls away from pitcher’s duel to even series with RiverDogs
Charleston, SC- A scoreless game entering the seventh inning quickly deteriorated for the Charleston RiverDogs in a 7-0 loss to the Columbia Fireflies on Wednesday night at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. Columbia scored two runs in the seventh and five in the eighth to earn their first win of the season in front of a crowd of 3,445.
After stellar work from starter Alex Ayala Jr. and Jeff Hakanson for the first six innings of the contest, the RiverDogs (2-2) turned to Jack Hartman in the seventh. The right-hander walked the first three batters of the inning to load the bases. After a mound visit from pitching coach Levi Romero, Hartman rebounded to strike out Erick Pena for the first out of the inning. However, a wild pitch in the next at-bat forced in the game’s first run. The right-hander walked Junior Calderon and his night came to a close. Duncan Davitt took over and induced a groundball to short, but a run scored as the only play available was to first.
The eighth inning began with a double by Jean Ramirez and then Omar Hernandez put down a sacrifice bunt that scored a run when it was followed by a Davitt throwing error. An RBI single followed from Brett Squires to make it 4-0, and a walk to Daniel Vazquez chased Davitt from the game. Erick Pena doubled home a pair of runs as the first hitter to face Jake Christianson and one final run crossed the plate on Roger Leyton’s sacrifice fly.
Columbia (1-2) starter Shane Panzini was tough on RiverDogs hitters through 5.0 innings of work, allowing only one hit. A trio of relievers combined to surrender just one hit over the final 4.0 innings with four strikeouts. Lefty Cooper McKeehan earned the win as the first man out of the bullpen.
Ayala picked up from where he left off in the 2022 postseason, striking out six in 4.0 scoreless frames. Hakanson followed with 2.0 perfect innings of relief and four whiffs. Five pitchers combined to collect 12 strikeouts on the night.
Lizandro Rodriguez was the only player in the game to register multiple hits, finishing the game 2-4 with a double. The RiverDogs offense was stuck in neutral for most of the night, registering only two singles. The team’s batting average dropped to .150 on the season, ranking 29th out of 30 Single-A teams.
On the first Wildcard Wednesday presented by Wicked Weed, the first 1,000 fans to enter the ballpark were gifted a concert tour-themed RiverDogs t-shirt. With an ode to the team’s consecutive championships in 2021 and 2022 on the front and a full schedule on the back, the shirts were immediately sported by many of the fans in the seats.
The third installment in the series is scheduled to get underway at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday night. $1 beer will be available throughout the ballpark on the first Budweiser Thirsty Thursday of the new season. RHP Trevor Martin will make his RiverDogs debut on the mound for the team and face off with RHP David Sandlin (0-0, 1.93) of the Fireflies.
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