ROME, GA. — Greg Bird hit his team-leading 18th homer of the year and Evan Rutckyj tossed five solid innings to become Charleston’s first 10-game winner this season as the RiverDogs defeated the Rome Braves, 8-4 in, the series opener Friday night at State Mutual Stadium.
The RiverDogs’ fifth straight win propelled them to 28-26 in the second half and 67-55 overall. Rome fell to 26-28 and 62-61.
Charleston got the scoring started on back-to-back doubles by Ericson Leonora and Reymond Nunez in the top of the second inning to go up 1-0.
It stayed that way as both starters cruised until the top of the fifth inning when the RiverDogs added two more runs on RBI singles by Jake Cave and Bird to make it 3-0.
Rome got on the board in the fifth inning. With runners at second and third and two outs, Jose Peraza pulled a base hit through the left side to drive in a couple and cut the Charleston lead to 3-2.
In the top of the sixth inning, the RiverDogs pushed their lead to 4-2 with a Jackson Valera liner that hit pitcher Wes Parsons, trickled into shallow center, and brought home Reymond Nunez to score. Parsons had to leave the game with an injury after being struck in the leg with the liner .
The Braves were right back at it in the bottom of sixth matching the RiverDogs’ run on Tyler Tewell’s two-out RBI single up the middle to score Edison Sanchez and make it a 4-3 game.
Charleston blew it open in the top of the seventh inning. After a walk to Angelo Gumbs with one out, Bird launched a towering two-run homer to right and put the RiverDogs up 6-3.
Rome cut the lead to 6-4 with a run in the bottom of the seventh, but a costly error in the top of the ninth by shortstop Jose Peraza allowed two more runs to score for the Dogs and push their lead to 8-4. Vicente Campos threw two scoreless innings to close it out and collect his second save of the year for Charleston.
Bird led the way offensively for the RiverDogs with a single, homer, three RBIs and two walks.
Charleston’s Rutckyj allowed two runs on five hits in his five innings of work to earn the win and improve to 10-8. He became the first RiverDog to get to 10 wins this year, and just the fourth in the South Atlantic League in 2013 to achieve that feat.
Rome starter Wes Parsons (5-7) got tagged with loss.