Bats Break Free as RiverDogs Handle Hillcats 9-5
Charleston, SC- The Charleston RiverDogs opened a championship rematch with the Lynchburg Hillcats by erasing an early deficit and earning a 9-5 win on Tuesday night. Xavier Isaac and Kamren James each hit their first professional home runs during a contest played in front of 4,016 at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.
The game started in less-than-ideal fashion for the RiverDogs (8-14) and starting pitcher Marcus Johnson. Lynchburg received a leadoff single from Nathan Furman and another base hit from Guy Lipscomb to put two on base with one out. Maik Collado put the Hillcats on the board with a double down the third base line. A sacrifice fly from Juan Benjamin and RBI single from Jose Devers made it 3-0 before Charleston came to the plate for the first time.
James put the RiverDogs on the board by hooking a solo home run just inside the left field foul pole to open the second frame. In the third, Christopher Barete singled and was joined on base by Chandler Simpson, who beat out a groundball to the left side. Cooper Kinney’s single brought in Barete and allowed the RiverDogs to close within 3-2. Isaac followed with a deep drive to straightaway center field that cleared the outfield wall. The three-run blast handed the home team a 5-3 advantage.
Lynchburg (10-12) cut the deficit in half with Wuilfredo Antunez’s bases loaded walk against reliever Cade Halemanu in the fourth. Barete made a wild trip around bases to answer for the RiverDogs in the bottom of the same inning. The nine-hitter singled, stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a balk by Adam Tulloch.
Against southpaw Drew Sommers, the Hillcats again threatened to pull even. With one out in the seventh, a walk, single and double steal put the tying run in scoring position. The only run that Sommers allowed came on a groundout to short. He struck out Jose Devers to leave the tying run at third base.
The Charleston bats put the game to rest in the bottom of the seventh. They loaded the bases with no outs on two singles and a walk. Lynchburg brought in Magnus Ellerts to try to escape the jam. His first pitch went to the backstop, allowing the first run of the frame to score. He struck out the next two batters, but Odalys Peguero drove in two more with a base hit and the RiverDogs moved in front by the final tally of 9-5.
Simpson, Kinney, James and Barete each finished the night with two hits. James paired his first home run with a double. Lipscomb finished 3-4 with two doubles to lead all hitters in the contest. Collado added a pair of hits for the Hillcats.
Halemanu earned the win for the RiverDogs in 2.1 scoreless, hitless innings out of the pen. Matt Wyatt recorded the final six outs, while allowing only one hit. Johnson worked 3.2 innings at the outset of the contest, scattering eight hits and allowing four runs. Sommers was charged with one run on one hit and a walk in his lone inning on the bump.
The RiverDogs hosted their annual Nurses Night at The Joe on Tuesday. Many of the contests between innings featured nurses competing against one another. When the spotlight wasn’t on healthcare workers, there was an abundance of canine-themed fun directed toward the large number of dogs in the park on the second Dog Day of the campaign.
Game two of the series is set for 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday night. On the mound for the RiverDogs will be RHP Jonny Cuevas (0-1, 4.80). Lynchburg will answer with RHP Austin Peterson (0-2, 2.70). Fans are once again invited to bring their four-legged friends to the game!
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