ASHEVILLE, NC - Trailing by three in the ninth, the Charleston RiverDogs rallied to put the tying run at second base, and an inch would be the difference. With the RiverDogs down to their last strike, Charleston catcher Audie Afenir hit a jam shot to straightaway center that landed just past the outstretched glove of Tourists center fielder Terry McClure to force an extra frame as the RiverDogs finished off their most impressive comeback victory of the season, 10-9 over Asheville on Saturday night at McCormick Field.
Trailing 8-5 heading into the top of the ninth, the RiverDogs (49-36, 7-9) offense went to work, meticulously chipping away at the Asheville (42-43, 8-8) lead. Charleston shortstop Hoy Jun Park led off the inning with a solo home run to right, his first of the season that made it a two run ballgame. After Kyle Holder grounded out to second, Jeff Hendrix singled to put the tying run up at the plate. First baseman Chris Gittens crushed a double off the top of the towering wall in right field to put runners at second and third, and a sacrifice fly by Mandy Alvarez cut the deficit to just one before Afenir's single forced a bottom of the ninth.
After Charleston relievers Justin Kamplain and Garrett Mundell (1-2) combined for a scoreless frame, the RiverDogs carried their ninth inning momentum into the extra frame. Alex Palma ripped double to left to begin the inning and Park drew a walk with one out. Holder laid down a bunt on a squeeze play that scored Palma to give the RiverDogs a 9-8 lead. Jeff Hendrix added insurance with a single to center that made it 10-8.
In the bottom half, Mundell was shaky to start but got the job done. The Fresno State product walked back-to-back batters with one out before Asheville right fielder Yonathan Daza singled up the middle to make it a one run ballgame. Mundell would strike out Chris Keck and coax a fly out by Hamlet Marte to end the ballgame and cap off the RiverDogs impressive comeback. The three run deficit matched the biggest comeback victory for the RiverDogs this season. Alexander Guillen blew his first save of the season in five chances for Asheville in the ninth, and Hayden Jones (0-1) took the loss.
Charleston got on the board first to jump on Asheville starter Jesus Tinoco. Park singled to lead off the ballgame and scored on Hendrix's one out double to right center. After Gittens drew a walk, Mandy Alvarez singled to center the ball was juggled by McClure that allowed Hendrix to score and make it 2-0. On the next play, Afenir drove a double to left to score Gittens, but Alvarez was cut down at the plate to limit the RiverDogs' early lead to 3-0.
Asheville got two runs back in the second, one on a solo homer by Keck. Marte singled and eventually scored on a passed ball to make it a one run ballgame.
Gittens padded Charleston's lead back to three in the third when he smashed a line shot over the wall in left, a two run bomb for his 15th of the season, to make it 5-2 RiverDogs.
In the bottom of the third after a one out single by Daza, Keck took RiverDogs starter Christian Morris deep once again, this time with a two-run homer that made it 5-4.
With two outs in the fifth, Morris issued a walk to Keck on his 98th pitch of the ballgame and would exit the ballgame. Charleston lefty Justin Kamplain entered and his first pitch was promptly ripped to left for a home run by Marte that gave the Tourists their first lead at 6-5.
Morris finished allowing five runs (all earned) on four hits across 4.2 innings while striking out six and walking four in a no decision effort. The former Indiana Hoosier had not allowed more than three runs in any of his 11 previous starts with Charleston.
Asheville appeared to have the game in hand in the sixth when they added two more in the sixth on a two RBI single by Brian Mundell that pushed the home side's lead to 8-5.