RiverDogs Shake Extra Inning Skid to Steal Opener in Columbia
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Designated hitter Welfrin Mateo continued his hot streak, scorching a two-out, second inning home run to build an early lead before the RiverDogs shook off their extra inning woes to pull ahead for good, 4-3, in a back-and-forth affair that went 10 innings in Friday night's road trip opener at Segra Park.
After Columbia (35-53, 11-11) twice erased Charleston (47-45, 10-12) leads that never lasted more than half inning, the RiverDogs went to extras having dropped their previous five contests going beyond nine frames this season. With second baseman Kyle Gray placed at second base to open the inning, Charleston's struggles to execute looked like they would continue as Mateo, who had been the standout in the lineup in the early portion of the contest, only managed to ground out to third while swinging away with the corners in and failing to move Gray over. Right fielder Frederick Cuevas next stepped up to turn in the at-bat of the game, fouling off five offerings in a ten-pitch battle with Nelson Leon (0-1) that ended with a fly ball to right field that scored Gray and gave the RiverDogs a 4-3 lead.
After Charleston failed to add anything further in the tenth, Ron Marinaccio was called upon to save the game and delivered with a hard-fought third save of the season. The New Jersey product coaxed fly balls out of top Mets prospects Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio, the latter of which was retired on a reach by Canaan Smith over a railing in foul territory for the second out of the inning. Right fielder Wagner Lagrange bounced out to Max Burt to keep the lead intact.
Mateo carried Charleston's offense in the early portion, driving one out to left-center for his second homer of the season, both coming in the last ten games, a stretch where the Dominican Republic product is now 11-for-his-last-32 (.344) with seven total extra base hits. After Kyle Gray tripled off the sloped, power alley wall in right-center, Mateo knocked in a second run with sac fly to center field to make it 2-0 favoring the Holy City in the fifth.
The Fireflies quickly answered back with a pair of the their own in the bottom of the fifth, when Vientos smashed a fly ball off the power alley in left-center, caroming off the wall to centerfield to allow the second-rounder to race around and score for an inside-the-parker that tied the game. Shortstop Sharvyen Newton singled in the at-bat prior, both coming with two outs.
The RiverDogs scored again in the sixth on back-to-back one out knocks by Josh Stowers and Canaan Smith before the Fireflies made it four straight half-innings with at least a run on the board when Carlos Sanchez roped an RBI triple into left to tie the game at three apiece.
The win was just Charleston's second victory in nine extra inning contests this year.
The Dogs continue the series in the state capital on Saturday night, sending electrifying right-hander Alexander Vizcaino (4-4, 4.32) to the hill. The mid-season All-Star selection will face the Fireflies for the second time this season after turning in seven shutout and allowing just a pair of hits on April 28 at The Joe against the Mets affiliate. After a pair of rough outings following the break, the Dominican Republic product returned to form in his last start, giving up just a run over 4 2/3 while striking out six on Saturday in Greenville. Columbia will counter with right-hander Jose Butto (3-7, 3.83), who has allowed nine runs (four earned) in 14 innings against Charleston this season over four appearances. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m. with "Saturday Dog Talk" pregame coverage starting at 5:30.
Catch the game on WTMA 1250 AM in the tri-county area as well as online streaming on the TuneIn Radio app. 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 is available at riverdogs.com.
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