Rome Edges RiverDogs to Send Division Race Down to Final Weekend
ROME, GA - The South Atlantic's League Southern Division first-half race will come down to the wire. The Charleston RiverDogs dropped a second one-run game to the Rome Braves, falling 3-2 on Wednesday afternoon at State Mutual Stadium to fall into a share of first place with Augusta, marking the first time since May 5 that Charleston doesn't stand alone atop the Southern Division standings.
Center fielder Brandon Lockridge continued his historic campaign from the leadoff spot in the loss, going 2-for-3, including drilling his 21st double of the season in the third. The Troy product surpassed Greg Bird (2013) and Tyler Austin (2012) as the first RiverDog to collect more than 20 doubles before the All-Star break since J.R. Murphy cracked 23 in 62 games in the first half of the 2011 campaign. The fifth-round pick from last year's draft leads the Dogs with nine home runs and 33 RBI; over half of his hits (33/65) have gone for more than a single.
After a sprawling play by center fielder Jose Bermudez robbed Lockridge of more extra bases in the fifth, he stepped up with Charleston down 2-1 in the seventh and lined out on a sliding play by the left fielder Andrew Moritz, good enough to allow Matt Pita to tag up and tie the game.
In a game in which Charleston (35-31) never led, the Braves (28-37) took their second one-run lead in the sixth. Right-hander Tanner Myatt's (0-1) command started to slip away after retiring the first two he faced out of the bullpen. The former Florence-Darlington product issued back-to-back walks before getting shortstop Ariel Montesino down 0-2 in the count. Before the next pitch was delivered, lead runner Derian Cruz took off for third and Myatt tossed toward Welfrin Mateo, instead airmailing the throw into foul territory to allow the tying run to score. In the seventh, one of Myatt's three walks would prove the game-winner, scoring on an RBI single by right fielder Jeremy Fernandez.
Rome jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Charleston starter Harold Cortijo in the second, but the 20-year-old righty was solid in his second start since joining the RiverDogs. The Puerto Rican born hurler allowed just one run on back-to-back two-out hits in the inning and finished five frames with six strikeouts.
The Dogs evened up the game at one apiece on some sloppy fielding by the Braves with two errors in the fourth. Frederick Cuevas, who ripped a one-out double, scored on an RBI fielder's choice by Pita to make it 1-1.
With an Augusta (34-30) win earlier in the afternoon, the RiverDogs fell into a tie for first place in the standings. If the two teams finish even in the standings by the end of the weekend, the Giants affiliate would clinch the first half title and a playoff spot by virtue of winning percentage.
The loss marked the fourth straight one-run game the RiverDogs have played, losing three in that span.
The RiverDogs return home for their final series before the All-Star break, facing the Greenville Drive in a four-game set starting Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. from Riley Park. In the opener, Charleston sends hard-throwing righty Luis Medina (0-4, 8.55). The 20-year-old is coming off his best start of the campaign last Friday at the Joe when he scattered two runs and four hits over five innings of work with a career-high nine strikeouts against Asheville. Neck-and-neck with the RiverDogs, Augusta opens up a four-day homestand at SRP Park, hosting the Rome Braves.
Catch the game on "The Big Talker" WTMA 1250 AM, online streaming on the RiverDogs' 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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South Atlantic League Stories from June 12, 2019
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- Fireflies Game Notes: June 12 vs. Asheville (Game 62) - Columbia Fireflies
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- Hagerstown Suns Game Notes - Hagerstown Suns
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