Lidge's First Homer Caps Comeback, Dogs Win Opener
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Despite blowing an early lead, Charleston put together a huge sixth inning to down the Greenville Drive 8-6 Friday night in front of 5,244 at Joe Riley Park.
With their playoff chances dwindling, the RiverDogs (71-66, 34-33) continued to scratch and claw trailing 6-2 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Ten men came to the plate in the game-deciding sixth, beginning with Oswald Peraza's infield single. Josh Breaux drew a free pass to follow, but was forced out at second base on a slow infield dribbler from Canaan Smith.
The Dogs' left fielder reached on the throw to second, to set up runners on the corners and one out for Frederick Cuevas, who pinch-hit for Josh Stowers. Cuevas flew out to center, but Eric Wagaman picked him up, coming through with a two-run double off the left field wall off Kevin Biondic (4-9, 4.68) to cut Greenville's lead to 6-4. Matt Pita, playing in his first game at Riley Park since July 3, was hit by an errant 0-1 pitch ahead of catcher Ryan Lidge.
The third-year pro teed off on an 0-1 pitch and crushed it over the right field wall for his first home run of the season, a three-run shot that gave the Dogs a 7-6 lead. Lidge was the only member of Charleston's active roster without a long ball to his name before his dramatic sixth-inning blast.
Charleston would add on in the seventh, when Canaan Smith grounded a single up the middle that allowed Josh Breaux to score the Dogs' eighth run.
Despite the Dogs' comeback victory, the GreenJackets also prevailed over the Fireflies 7-3, eliminating the Dogs from playoff contention.
The offensive explosion picked up starter Jhony Brito, who was only able to make it five innings while allowing six runs and a career-high 12 hits. With Charleston holding a 2-0 lead via solo shots by Oswald Peraza and Eric Wagaman, Brito's struggles began in the third inning.
2018 first-rounder Triston Casas ripped a single past Wagaman at first to plate Everlouis Lozada in the third, and Greenville took the lead an inning later with a three-spot punctuated by Samuel Miranda's first homer of the year. The Drive didn't stop, plating two more in the fifth with a solo shot by Casas and a sloppy play that included two Charleston errors and allowed the Drive's sixth run to score.
Keegan Curtis (3-1, 1.56) provided sanity on the mound following Brito's exit, throwing four innings of two-hit ball in relief with a career-high-tying six strikeouts. He ran into trouble in the top of the ninth, when Greenville mustered their only two hits of the night off the righty, but he struck out two of the final three Drive hitters to seal the 8-6 win.
Wait, Rebecca Black has other songs too? The RiverDogs honored the best 'One-Hit Wonders' Friday night during the final Home Telecom postgame fireworks display of the season. Fans who stayed for the show after the game were treated to the catchiest earworms that accompanied the spectacle in the sky. It was also the final Boeing Red Shirt Friday of the season, and fans scurried to the box office wearing red to get a $1 discount off regular ticket prices. They then had the opportunity to donate that dollar back to support local nonprofit LEAP, the Lowcountry's source for equine-assisted psychotherapy. The Dogs' game-worn jerseys were also made available in a mid-game auction, giving fans the opportunity to leave with a meaningful souvenir.
The Spinx Battle of the Palmetto State rages on in game two of the series Saturday night, when right-hander Harold Cortijo (4-4, 3.48) makes his first start this year against the Red Sox affiliate. After beginning his season with seven straight starts of at least five innings and two or fewer runs allowed, Cortijo has experienced mixed results in his last six outings. He looks to build off a solid five-inning start against Kannapolis August 25 when he surrendered four runs on five hits. Southpaw Angel Padron (2-7, 3.21) will get the start for Greenville, making just his sixth start in 28 total appearances this year. Padron coughed up six runs in just 3 2/3 innings against the Augusta GreenJackets in his last start.
For those who can't make it to Riley Park, catch the game on WTMA 1250 AM in the tri-county area, online streaming on the TuneIn Radio app and on MiLB.tv with a subscription. Fans can "Make Fun" with the RiverDogs all season long down at The Joe. Single-game tickets, including options to the Riley Park Club, are available at riverdogs.com/tickets or by contacting the RiverDogs front office at 843-577-3647 (DOGS). A full schedule and list of game times for the 2019 season are available at riverdogs.com.
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