Connor Spencer Goes 3-for-4 as Charleston rallies for three runs in the eighth
ROME, GA – Trailing 1-0 heading into the eighth inning, the Charleston RiverDogs got a pair of clutch doubles from Connor Spencer and Audie Afenir, and in the blink of an eye turned a one run deficit into a 3-1 lead as Charleston took a series clinching 4-2 victory over the Rome Braves on Tuesday night at State Mutual Stadium.
The game began as a pitcher’s duel with a pair of former Diamondbacks farmhands dealing for their respective clubs. RiverDogs starter Yefrey Ramirez (3-1), a minor league Rule 5 pick by the Yankees from Arizona in December, gave up two extra-base hits in the first. Rome center fielder Ray-Patrick Didder tripled to leadoff the frame and came around to score on a sac fly by Luke Dykstra. After giving up a one out double to Austin Riley, Ramirez clamped down to retire the next 16 in a row, and would finish the night allowing just the one run on three hits in seven innings with six strikeouts.
Former first round pick Touki Toussaint shut down the RiverDogs (34-22) through the first six innings of the ballgame. Spencer managed the only two hits off of Toussaint in his six shutout innings. Toussaint struck out a career-high nine batters and took a no-hit bid into the fourth before giving up a single to Spencer who would finish the night going 3-for-4, RBI and half the RiverDogs hits on the evening.
The RiverDogs were able to jump on lefty reliever Oriel Caicedo (1-2) in the eighth. Gosuke Katoh walked to lead off the inning and Cesar Diaz singled to put runners at first and second. On the next play, Charleston shortstop Hoy Jun Park hit a fly ball to center field, but it wasn’t deep enough as Katoh was thrown out trying to advance to third. With Diaz now at second, Chris Gittens was intentionally walked after working the count to 3-0, and Spencer and Afenir followed with doubles on back-to-back pitches to tie up the ballgame and then make it a 3-1 Charleston lead.
Rome (22-35) would get a run back in the eighth. Alejandro Salazar singled to lead off the frame and advanced to second on a two out base hit by Dykstra before scoring on a wild pitch by Charleston reliever Jose Mesa to cut Charleston’s lead to one.
Charleston added a key insurance run in the ninth to make it a 4-2 ballgame. Nathan Mikolas was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Leonardo Molina singled. After both runners advanced on a sacrifice by Katoh, Diaz grounded out to the pitcher to plate the fourth run of the ballgame.
Recently named All-Star closer Andrew Scwhaab recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his 10th save of the season.
With the win, the RiverDogs improve to 34-22 on the season with their magic number now at nine, pending other action around the league.
The RiverDogs will go for a three-game sweep of Rome in in the finale against the Braves on Wednesday afternoon at State Mutual Stadium. The RiverDogs will send RHP Daris Vargas (4-2, 2.23) to face RHP Patrick Weigel (3-3, 3.03), the third first round pick the Braves will roll out in the series, with the first pitch scheduled for 1pm. The RiverDogs return to The Joe on Thursday for a seven-game homestand that runs from June 9-15. Tomorrow afternoon’s ballgame will be broadcast online exclusively at riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs TuneIn Radio Station.
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.