Monday, June 16, 2014
The first half of the 2014 season came to a close on Sunday when Dustin Fowler's first professional grand slam launched the Charleston RiverDogs to a 10-3 victory over the Lexington Legends at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in South Atlantic League action.
The RiverDogs finished the first half with a 33-37 record and a fifth place finish in the Southern Division. By comparison, the Legends ended in sixth place and had a 29-41 record. Charleston earned a 3-1 series victory at Lexington on the strength of a three-game win streak.
Both teams put a runner at third base early in the contest but did not score. In the bottom of the first inning, Ramon Torres reached on a one-out double and made it to third base on a groundout before the scoring threat was ended by a strikeout. In the top of the fifth, Fowler led off with a triple but stayed at third after a walk and three straight outs.
Starting pitchers Ian Clarkin and Crawford Simmons each allowed two hits in five shutout innings for Charleston and Lexington, respectively. Clarkin struck out five without delivering a walk while Simmons had six strikeouts and four walks. In a four-game series with the Legends, RiverDogs starters combined to allow only one run in 22.0 innings pitched.
Lexington broke the scoreless deadlock in the sixth inning to take a 1-0 lead. Kevin Kuntz greeted RiverDogs reliever Omar Luis with a double. Kuntz moved to third base on Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado's sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch for the game's first run.
Fowler pushed the RiverDogs in front 4-1 with a grand slam early in the seventh. With one out in the inning, Gosuke Katoh walked, Michael O'Neill was hit by a pitch, and Tyler Wade walked to load the bases. Fowler touched Matt Alvarez for a grand glam, his third home run this season.
The Legends cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh but failed to tie the game. Lexington immediately filled the bases and scored two runs during a single from Carlos Garcia. After a sacrifice bunt, the RiverDogs turned a double play that was capped with an out at the plate.
Charleston responded with six unanswered runs to pull away from Lexington. The RiverDogs loaded the bases against Jose Rodriguez to start the eighth before the Legends brought in Tripp Davis. Katoh brought in two runs with a single for a 6-3 lead. Two batters later, Wade recorded his own two-run single to drive the lead to 8-3. In the ninth, John Murphy scored on a wild pitch to Katoh, who would single to score Brandon Thomas for a seven-run winning advantage.
In other RiverDogs notes, Aaron Judge was not in the lineup for Sunday's game but ended the first half as the South Atlantic League batting leader with a .333 average. Also, Eduardo de Oleo's team-best 11-game hit streak was snapped in an 0-for-5 outing.
Luis picked up the victory for Charleston to climb to 2-2. Alvarez lost and is 2-2 with Lexington.
The South Atlantic League All-Star Game is set for Tuesday, June 17 in Hickory, NC at 7pm to highlight the three-day All-Star Break. The RiverDogs will return to Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park for the start of the second half on Thursday, June 19, hosting the Kannapolis Intimidators at 7:05pm. Starting pitchers for this contest have yet to be determined. Charleston will host the Minor League Baseball Game of the Week on CBS Sports Network against the Intimidators on another Budweiser Thirsty Thursday, presented by 95SX, with $1 drafts and DJ Natty Heavy in the Ashley view Pub. Tickets may be purchased at the Riley Park Box Office, (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or on-line at www.riverdogs.com. If fans cannot make it to the ballpark, they are encouraged to tune in to all the action this year both home and away worldwide on www.riverdogs.com and locally on 1250 WTMA, the new radio home for RiverDogs baseball.