RiverDogs Drop First Game in Kannapolis 6-1

Riverdogs hoping to take home the win in the Championship!
Riverdogs hoping to take home the win in the Championship!(Charleston RiverDogs)
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 12:26 AM EDT
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Kannapolis, NC- Leading by one entering the bottom of the eighth inning, the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers scored four runs to pull away from the Charleston RiverDogs for a 6-1 win on Tuesday night. The RiverDogs left nine runners on the bases as they dropped their first game played at Atrium Health Ballpark since 2021.

RiverDogs starter Alex Ayala Jr. was tough on Cannon Ballers hitters for most of his 4.0 innings on the mound. He limited Kannapolis (6-3) to just two hits, but they happened to come in succession and put the home team on the scoreboard. Brooks Baldwin opened the fourth inning with a single off the glove of third baseman Kamren James. Tim Elko followed with a booming first pitch home run to put the Cannon Ballers in front 2-0.

The RiverDogs (4-5) could not muster anything offensively through the first six innings, despite recording five hits. Ryan Cermak changed that by blasting a leadoff home run off the batter’s eye in the seventh. His second round-tripper of the season traveled 434 feet. The RiverDogs would put five more runners on base in the last three innings of the game but could not tally again.

In the last of the eighth, the Cannon Ballers loaded the bases against Jeff Hakanson with two hits and a walk. Baldwin then broke the game open with a two-run single to center. A wild pitch made it 5-1 and, moments later, Elko drove in his third run of the night with a groundball single up the middle to reach the final margin.

Hakanson allowed four runs on four hits and two walks in 2.0 innings of work. Nate Dahle, the first pitcher out of the bullpen, tossed 2.0 perfect innings with three strikeouts. Sean Harney remained unscored upon this season by recording the final two outs of the eighth.

Elko and Baldwin paced the Kannapolis attack with two hits each. Cermak was the lone RiverDogs batter with multiple hits, collecting two of the team’s seven on the night.

The teams will face a quick turnaround for game two of the series, which is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday. RHP Trevor Martin (0-1, 3.36) will get the nod for Charleston and LHP Shane Murphy (0-1, 0.00) will counter for Kannapolis.