The Greensboro Grasshoppers took advantage of four Charleston errors to win the series opener, 8-4, Thursday night at Riley Park in front of 4,914 fans.
The loss snapped a six-game win streak for the RiverDogs (18-12, 57-41 overall).
The teams combined to throw 479 pitches, with neither starting pitcher making it past the fourth inning.
Charleston got the scoring started early with a solo homer by Cito Culver, his eighth of the year, in the bottom of the first inning to go up 1-0.
Mount Pleasant native and former College of Charleston star Daniel Aldrich made his home debut for Charleston, and in his first at-bat he tripled to right field in the bottom of the second. Nick McCoy followed with a double down the left-field line to score Aldrich and put the RiverDogs up 2-1.
McCoy reached base all five times he went to plate with a single, double, two walks and a hit by pitch.
A three-run top of the third inning gave Greensboro its first lead at 4-2, but Dante Bichette Jr. crushed a monster homer over the left-field wall to tie the game at 4-4 in the bottom of third. However, the Grasshoppers again answered with another three runs in the top of the fourth to go up 7-4.
Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, special assistant to the general manager for the New York Yankees, was in attendance and received a standing ovation in the fifth inning.
Both starters struggled as Charleston’s Evan Rutckyj left after three innings. He allowed four hits, four runs (only one of which was earned), one walk and four strikeouts. Greensboro’s starting pitch Daniel Oliver lasted just a bit longer, going 32/3 innings. He gave up four runs on six hits, four walks and seven strikeouts. Neither starter factored in the decision.
The first man out of the bullpen for each team took the decision, with Luis Niebla for the RiverDogs falling to 4-6 with the loss and Sean Donatello going to 1-0 for Greensboro with the win. Niebla allowed three runs, only one earned, on two hits in three innings of work, with one walk and three strikeouts. Donatello was very good and did not allow a hit, walking two in 21/3 scoreless innings of work.
The Grasshoppers added a run in the top of the eighth inning off RiverDogs reliever Adam Smith to make it 8-4, and never looked back. Smith gave up the one run on one hit and two walks while also hitting a batter and striking out one. Derek Varnadore pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Charleston.
Starter-turned-reliever Mason Hope got the final nine outs for Greensboro without allowing a run on three hits. He walked three.
Greg Bird also had another great game for the RiverDogs, going 1 for 2 with a single, a run scored and three walks.
Game two of this four-game set against Greensboro will be 7:05 p.m. Friday at The Joe. RHP Vicente Campos (1-2, 3.57 ERA) will be on the mound for Charleston, while Greensboro will start RHP Ramon Del Orbe (5-6, 4.95 ERA).
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