The Charleston RiverDogs offense broke through for four runs in the seventh inning and Freicer Perez struck out nine as they defeated the Augusta GreenJackets 5-1 Monday night in front of a capacity crowd of 7,620 at Joe Riley Park.
For much of the night, pitching kept the offenses in check. The RiverDogs struck in the first inning. Hoy Park led things off with a single to center field off Augusta starter Stephen Woods Jr. Diego Castillo struck out, but during the at-bat, Park stole second. Park would advance to third on a wild pitch and would score on Estevan Florial‘s RBI ground out to second base for a 1-0 Dogs lead.
Augusta would tie the game off Perez (W, 4-3) when Jacob Heyward hit a towering home run over the left field wall to knot the game at one in the top of the second. That was one of the few mistakes Perez would make all evening long as he pitched seven innings allowing just five hits, one run that was earned, while striking out nine batters. Those seven innings pitched and nine strikeouts are career highs for Perez. “He pitched really and got out of a couple of jams. He’s been really good going back to his last probably five, six, seven starts. He’s really developed from where he started the year to where he is now. He’s made huge strides,” RiverDogs manager Patrick Osborn said of Perez’s effort.
The score would remain at 1-1 until the bottom of the seventh. Park started things off with a walk and Diego Castillo followed with a sac bunt that first baseman Skyler Ewing threw away allowing Park to move to third and Castillo to second. After Florial struck out, Isiah Gilliam ripped a laser down the left field line to nestled into the left field corner. Park and Castillo scored on the play to give the Dogs a 3-1 lead. Donny Sands hit a high fly ball to first baseman Ewing who dropped the ball allowing Gilliam to advance to third and Sands to second. Brandon Wagner then ripped a single through the drawn in infield to plate both Gilliam and Sands and put the lead at 5-1. “That was the game. We had a couple of chances early and we didn’t get the big hit. Gillie comes up and breaks it open and then Wagner follows and gets a two RBI single. Nice win on a great night in front of a bunch of really great fans,” Osborn said.
Isiah Gilliam described his approach for the hit that would give the RiverDogs a lead they would not relinquish, “I just kind of look after (Florial’s) at-bat. They threw him a lot of offspeed pitches. We’re similar hitters, we both drive the ball the opposite way with power. I just assumed he’d throw a lot of offspeed pitches and I sat offspeed and just adjusted to the fastball.”
Trevor Lane and Luis Cedeno finished off the Jackets in the eighth and the ninth. Neither pitcher gave up a hit while Lane struck out one and Cedeno struck out two of the three batters he faced. This was Cedeno’s second outing since joining the RiverDogs. “(Cedeno’s) gonna be a big piece for us. He’s dropped his arm angle a little bit trying to get a little more movement on his fastball and create some dip on his slider. It really looks good. His slider is a little erratic right now, but when he gets that thing, he’s going to be tough,” Osborn said.
The RiverDogs took three of four from the Augusta GreenJackets and hit the road to face the Asheville Tourists for three games before returning home next Friday to face the Columbia Fireflies. With the win, Charleston improves to 8-3 on the second half and 42-39 overall while Augusta drops to 5-7 and 28-49 on the year.