CHARLESTON, SC – Chris Gittens smacked three home runs while collecting six RBIs, and the Charleston RiverDogs leaned on an early 8-0 lead to open their final series of the first half with an 8-6 victory over the West Virginia Power on Thursday night at Appalachian Power Park.
The RiverDogs would do all of their offensive damage in the first five innings, needing just five hits to jump all over West Virginia starter Dario Agrazal (3-6) to take an 8-0 lead.
In the first, Hoy Jun Park walked with one out and Chris Gittens swung at the first pitch he saw to take one yard over the right field wall and make it 2-0 RiverDogs.
In the second, Angel Aguilar wasted no time, cranking another first pitch from Agrazal to left for his seventh of the season to push the Charleston advantage to 3-0.
With two outs in the third, Gittens left off right where he started, jumping all over the second pitch he saw that night to launch his second of the night on an opposite field blast, a solo shot that made it 4-0.
In the fifth Gittens would take the first two pitches down low in the zone before ripping his third long ball to right for a three-run homer that made it 8-0. Charleston second baseman Gosuke Katoh reached on an error by West Virginia shortstop Alfredo Reyes to leadoff the frame before being driven in on a one out single to right by center fielder Cesar Diaz. Park followed with his second walk of the night before the sweet stroke by Gittens would put Charleston up big.
Gittens finished the night going 3-for-5, setting single game career-highs in home runs and RBIs, while racking up his third multi-home run game of the season and his career.
West Virginia would not go down quietly, rallying for four runs in the sixth to cut the RiverDogs’ lead in half, after Charleston starter Luis Cedeno (4-2) had allowed just three hits in five scoreless innings prior. All with one out, Daniel Arribas walked followed by back-to-back singles by Carlos Munoz and Casey Hughston to load up the bases. Logan Ratledge hit a fly ball to center deep enough to score Arribas before Tyler Filliben doubled over the head of Diaz to score two more and chase Cedeno. In entered Cody Carroll who would give up a double by catcher John Bormann that capped off the four run frame and closed the book on Cedeno who finished with four runs (all earned) allowed on six hits across his 5.2 innings while striking out two and walking one.
West Virginia’s All-Star centerfielder, Tito Polo, was instrumental in the West Virginia comeback that fell short. The native Colombian showcased his speed by beating out an infield single and swiping second in the seventh inning before coming around to score on an RBI ground out by Mitchell Tolman. In the ninth Polo flashed his power, belting his league leading 12th home run of the season with two outs in the ninth that made it a two run game at 8-6. Carroll got the punch out of Arribas to end the threat and pick up his third save of the season.
The RiverDogs continue their four-game set in Charleston North as they take on the Power in game two on Friday night starting at 7:05 pm. The RiverDogs will send RHP Yefrey Ramirez (3-1, 2.96) as West Virginia counters with RHP Logan Sendelbach (4-1, 3.66). Charleston will finish up the series on Sunday before the three day all-star break and then open the second half with a four-game series on the road against the Rome Braves from June 23-26.
Ticket information for the RiverDogs homestand and any of the remaining home games can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. Those that can’t make it to the park can follow every pitch of the RiverDogs season on WTMA 1250 AM and streaming online at riverdogs.com. Listen on WTMA 1250 AM in the tri-county area.