Offense Breaks Free as RiverDogs Earn Split with Columbia

The RiverDogs earned a series split with the Fireflies on Sunday with a victory
The RiverDogs earned a series split with the Fireflies on Sunday with a victory(Charleston RiverDogs)
Published: Apr. 16, 2023 at 11:05 PM EDT
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Charleston, SC- The Charleston RiverDogs snapped out of their early struggles at the plate, taking out a week’s worth of frustration on the Columbia Fireflies in a 9-2 win on Sunday evening. Dominic Keegan went 4-4 with four runs batted in, as the RiverDogs set new season-highs with 12 hits and nine runs scored in front of 3,372 fans. The teams split the six-game series with three wins each.

Columbia (3-4) jumped in front quickly in the first inning. Daniel Vazquez opened the game with an infield single against Yoniel Curet and Omar Hernandez was hit with a pitch. Curet responded with consecutive strikeouts, but a double steal moved both runners into scoring position with two outs. Dionmy Salon drove in the first two runs of the game when his bouncer toward the mound deflected off Curet and rolled past second baseman Jalen Battles.

From that point forward, Curet and four relievers shut down the Fireflies offense. Alex Cook earned the win in his RiverDogs debut, working the fourth and fifth innings with one hit allowed. Jack Hartman, Duncan Davitt and Jake Christianson did not surrender a hit over the final four innings of the contest. The staff combined for 12 strikeouts.

In the bottom of the first, the RiverDogs (4-4) cut the deficit in half immediately. Chandler Simpson opened the frame with a base hit and promptly stole second base, advancing to third on an error. The next two hitters were retired without Simpson scoring, but Keegan collected his first hit to drive him in and make it 2-1.

The first big inning compiled by the Charleston offense was the bottom of the fourth. The inning began with a pop out from Xavier Isaac. However, the next three batters each singled off of starter Ben Kudrna to load the bases. Carlos Colmenarez crushed a line drive over the head of center fielder Erick Pena to clear the bases and hand the RiverDogs a 4-2 advantage. The three-run triple was his first hit of the season.

Consecutive one-out singles by Ryan Spikes and Isaac in the fifth set the table for Keegan again. The catcher bounced a ball toward pitcher Ben Sears on the mound. Sears deflected the ball toward second base with his glove, but no out could be recorded as Spikes crossed the plate to make it 5-2.

The final damage was done in the seventh against reliever Marcus Olivarez. Simpson doubled to begin the inning and Spikes reached on an error by third baseman Brennon McNair. Isaac worked a walk to load the bases for the red-hot Keegan. The backstop didn’t wait long to increase the margin, sending a two-run single up the middle. Cooper Kinney followed with an RBI double, and Ryan Cermak closed the scoring with a run-scoring groundout to reach the 9-2 final.

In addition to Keegan’s four hits, Simpson and Kinney added two each to the team’s total. Vazquez was the only member of the Fireflies with multiple hits.

Ballpark Fun

For the first time in 2023, children were invited to the field to run the bases on an MUSC Health Family Sunday. An impressive number of youngsters participated, with a line forming around the entire seating bowl for a chance to race around the bags with Charlie T. RiverDog.

The RiverDogs head to Kannapolis on Tuesday to begin a six-game series with the Cannon Ballers. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m. LHP Alex Ayala Jr. (0-0, 0.00) will make his second start of the campaign against a pitcher to be announced for the home team.