Sommers leaves bases loaded as Dogs win second straight

Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 11:42 PM EDT
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Charleston, SC - The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the ninth inning on Wednesday night at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, causing Charleston RiverDogs manager Sean Smedley to call on reliever Drew Sommers in a tough spot. The lefty induced a game-ending groundball to short and the RiverDogs earned a hard-fought 5-4 victory to increase their division lead to 5.0 games. The game was played in front of a crowd of 3,379.

Charleston (21-11, 48-50) trailed 4-3 when the last of the seventh began with the bottom third of the order due up against sidearming lefty Ben Beutel. Carlos Colmenarez was hit by a pitch to open the frame and advanced all the way to third when Julio Meza followed with a line drive double to the left field corner. With the infield drawn in, Estanli Castillo punched a two-RBI single up the middle to hand the RiverDogs the lead for good.

Junior William worked a scoreless eighth inning and returned to the mound for the ninth. He began the inning by striking out Eddie Park before Chris Lanzilli lined a base hit to center field to put the tying run aboard. Jhoneiker Betancourt flied to center field on the first pitch he saw for the second out. Down to their final out, Kannapolis (16-16, 51-46) called on pinch-hitter Ryan McCarthy, a former Citadel Bulldog, to try and extend the game. McCarthy came through with a single and William walked Mario Camilletti to load the bases. Sommers entered and quickly put out the fire.

The RiverDogs began the game with an early lead as Chandler Simpson led off by hooking a double down the right field line in the first inning. He scored immediately when Cooper Kinney rolled a single up the middle into center field.

Home runs allowed both teams to reach the board next. Lanzilli mashed a three-run shot off the batter’s eye in the Cannon Ballers half of the second to hand them their first lead. In the bottom of the same inning, Ryan Spikes cranked a no-doubt home run to left field to bring the home team back within one.

Kannapolis used a leadoff walk to Calvin Harris in the fourth to push the lead to 4-2. The base on balls was followed by single from Park that left runners on second and third with no outs. A passed ball charged to Meza allowed a run to score, but Alex Ayala Jr. retired the next three hitters without Park crossing the plate.

The RiverDogs set the stage for the big seventh inning by cutting the deficit in half in the sixth against Beutel. Simpson worked a four-pitch walk and was balked to second with no outs. He quickly stole third base and scored on Kinney’s groundout to short to make it 4-3.

Alex Cook earned the win in a dominant effort out of the bullpen. He worked 3.0 scoreless innings, striking out six consecutive batters at one point in the outing. William worked 1.2 innings before handing the ball to Sommers who needed just three pitches to collect his seventh save. Ayala worked 4.0 innings as the starter, surrendering four runs, two earned, on three hits.

Simpson was the only RiverDogs hitter with multiple knocks, finishing 2-3 with a pair of runs scored. He also stole his 81st base of the season, moving into a tie with Rodney McCray (1986) for second in single-season team history. Kannapolis received two hits from Camilletti and Lanzilli.

Ballpark Fun

Tyler’s Amazing Balancing Act thrilled the crowd at The Joe in between innings throughout the night. The act, which has gained fame on America’s Got Talent and at various in-game shows around the country, featured the entertainer balancing chairs, bats, wheelbarrows, bicycles and even a ladder on his face.

Game three of the series will allow fans to enjoy $1 beers throughout the ballpark on Budweiser Thirsty Thursday. LHP Ian Seymour (0-0, 6.75) will make his second rehab appearance with the RiverDogs as the starting pitcher with RHP Tanner McDougal (0-3, 4.83) countering for the Cannon Ballers. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

RiverDogs season tickets, flexible ticket plans, and group tickets, including options to the Segra Club at Riley Park, are available at // or by contacting the RiverDogs front office at 843-577-3647 (DOGS).