Bullpen strong as Florial homers to put Charleston back into division lead
ROME, GA– Estevan Florial went 3-for-4 including a double and a home run to drive in two and the Charleston bullpen tossed 3.1 shutout frames as the RiverDogs scored four unanswered runs to top the Braves, 4-2, on Saturday night at State Mutual Stadium to pull even with Rome for first place in the Southern Division.
Florial turned in his best game of the season to give Charleston (7-3) a two game to one advantage in the series. The Dominican Republic native raised his average to a .273 mark (9-for-33) with a season-high three hits, including his first home run of the season on an opposite field solo shot in the eighth that gave the RiverDogs a two-run cushion.
Brian Keller (W, 2-0) turned in 5 2/3 solid innings, giving up single tallies in the third and fourth that gave the Braves an early advantage. The Wisconsin native struck out a pair with one walk while scattering seven hits.
Keller, the 2016 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was replaced by fellow conference-mate Trevor Lane, last year’s conference Reliever of the Year at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and the former Flame turned in 2.1 scoreless innings while pitching around three walks.
Kolton Mahoney slammed the door in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts for his first save of the season.
The RiverDogs got on the board in the fifth when Carlos Vidal and Diego Castillo drew back-to-back walks with one out before a pair of wild pitches by Braves starter Joey Wentz allowed Vidal to score, making it a one run ballgame.
Charleston took their first lead in the sixth. After second baseman Angel Aguilar singled to lead off the frame, Florial doubled off the center field wall to drive in his first of the year with one out. Two batters later, Leonardo Molina brought home the go-ahead run with a two-bagger grounded down the right field line.
Tucker Davidson (L, 0-1) took the loss for the Braves, allowing the two run scoring doubles as part of three hits all in the sixth in his two innings.
The RiverDogs defense looked confident and produced a game without an error for the first time all season after coming into play with a league leading 21 blunders.
The RiverDogs will try to take the series from the Braves as they send RHP Nick Nelson (0-0, 6.75) to the hill in game three to face Rome LHP Ryan Lawlor (1-0, 0.00). The game will be broadcast on WTMA 1250 AM and streaming online on riverdogs.com and the TuneIn app with the first pitch set for 2pm on Sunday.
RiverDogs tickets, including options for the all-new Riley Park Club, are now available and 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 in the tri-county area or by streaming online at riverdogs.com and the TuneIn Radio App by searching “RiverDogs.”