RiverDogs Reach Win Column on Strength of Season-High 14 Hits

Riverdogs hoping to take home the win in the Championship!
Riverdogs hoping to take home the win in the Championship!(Charleston RiverDogs)
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 10:22 PM EDT
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Kannapolis, NC- The Charleston RiverDogs totaled a season-high 14 hits, including six of the extra-base variety, to outslug the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers 8-5 on Thursday night at Atrium Health Ballpark. Cooper Kinney and Dominic Keegan each collected three hits in the victory.

For the second straight contest, each team scored a single run in the first inning. The RiverDogs (5-6) took the lead in the top half on Ryan Spikes’ infield single to third. Tim Elko tied the game with a solo home run in the bottom half of the frame.

The RiverDogs were able to build a solid lead over the next three innings. Ryan Cermak drove in a run in the third with an RBI fielder’s choice back to the mound. In the fourth, Kamren James followed a leadoff double by Estanli Castillo with an RBI single to make it 3-1. The lead swelled to 6-1 in a big fifth inning. Keegan blasted a two-run home run after Kinney opened the frame with a double. Cermak followed with another double and crossed home plate with the help of two balks by pitcher Kade Mechals.

Kannapolis worked their way back into the game with a pair of long balls. Elko connected for his second of the game, and third of the series, in the fifth. That two-run shot was part of a 4-4 day for the designated hitter with three runs batted in. Logan Glass hit another two-run blast in the sixth to close the Cannon Ballers withing 6-5.

Entering the ninth inning with the same lead, the RiverDogs collected some much-needed insurance. Chandler Simpson began the frame by hooking a line drive into the right field corner for a triple. He scored when Jordan Sprinkle’s relay throw to third sailed out of play. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases later in the inning and Castillo came through with an infield hit toward second to push the margin to 8-5.

Michael Sansone allowed two to reach in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate with two outs. The lefty got Luis Pineda to fly out to shallow right field to earn his first save. Sansone struck out five in 2.0 scoreless innings. Starter Marcus Johnson allowed only a solo home run in 4.0 innings, while striking out five. Jack Hartman earned the win despite allowing two runs in 1.0 inning as the first reliever. Jake Christianson also allowed two runs on a pair of hits over 2.0 innings on the hill.

In addition to the six hits provided by Keegan and Kinney, the RiverDogs received two hits each from Cermak, Spikes and Castillo. The Cannon Ballers collected 11 hits. Sprinkle had two in support of Elko’s big night.

Game four of the series is scheduled to get underway at 7:00 p.m. on Friday evening. Charleston will send RHP Jonny Cuevas (0-1, 3.86) to the mound in an effort to win consecutive games for the first time this season. Kannapolis has not yet named a starting pitcher.