CHARLESTON, WV - Chris Hess roped a game-tying, two-run homer as part of a three RBI night as the RiverDogs lineup amassed 13 hits to squeak past the West Virginia Power, 7-6, in Saturday night's series opener from Appalachian Power Park.
The series opening slugfest featured a combined 23 hits between the two sides with all the run scoring squeezed into the first four and a half frames, a stretch in which Charleston (57-64, 24-29) found themselves in front for the first time after second baseman David Metzgar lifted a 3-2 pitch to right field in the fifth. Hess' big night featured two straight plate appearances in which he brought the RiverDogs back even, his eighth long ball of the season made it 4-4 in the third before a sacrifice fly in the fourth pulled the game even at five apiece.
West Virginia (61-57, 24-28) used a pair of first inning home runs off Roansy Contreras to build an early lead. Designated hitter Cal Mitchell roped a two-run shot to right field to start the scoring party before second baseman Rodolfo Castro went deep two batters later to make it 3-0.
In a back-and-forth affair, Charleston would pull the game back even twice before taking the first lead of their own in the fifth.
Metzgar finished 2-for-4 while driving in a pair. Shortstop Wilkerman Garcia collected his fourth three-hit game of the season, reaching in four of five trips including a walk.
After a leadoff double came around to score in the third following an error, Contreras was chased from the ballgame after throwing 63 pitches. The Dominican right-hander recorded just seven outs and allowed five runs (four earned). Alexander Vargas (4-1) was called upon in long relief following the abbreviated start. He settled the game down, allowing just a run over the next 5 1/3 frames with four strikeouts. Carlos Espinal recorded the final four outs of the game, hammering down his fourth save in six appearances since a call up from Pulaski.
Charleston's 13 hits were the most since July 28. The 23 combined hits were the most since a 25-hit parade on July 30 at Hickory. Between the second and seventh, the first two RiverDogs batters of each inning reached.
The victory improved Charleston to 22-30 in one-run games this year. The RiverDogs lead the league in games decided by both one run and games decided by two runs or fewer (74).