ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Charleston RiverDogs scored eight times in the ninth inning to emerge victorious, 8-2, over the Asheville Tourists in one of Charleston’s wildest games of the year Saturday night at McCormick Field in South Atlantic League play.
With the comeback win, the RiverDogs improved to 31-31 in the second half and 70-60 overall. The Tourists fell to 23-38 and 61-68. The series is tied at 1-1 with the finale coming up Sunday.
Trailing 2-0 heading to the ninth inning, it looked like Charleston was going to come up short on a beautiful Saturday evening in the mountains. However, that was not to be the case.
Daniel Aldrich led off the ninth with a single against Raul Fernandez, then Ty Afenir reached on a bunt single, and Jake Cave walked to load the bases with nobody out. Jackson Valera came through for the Dogs and lined a single into right field to plate Aldrich and Afenir and tie the game at 2-2.
Greg Bird walked to reload the bases with nobody out, and Jose Rosario lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Cave and give Charleston a 3-2 advantage, the Dogs’ first lead of the game. But they were nowhere near done.
Following a popout to second by Ericson Leonora, a weak grounder towards shortstop resulted in an RBI infield single for Reymond Nunez, and then a base hit by Fu-Lin Kuo plated another to put Charleston up 5-2.
Aldrich then stepped up to the plate for the second time in the inning, and the former College of Charleston standout launched his first home run as a professional, a three-run blast over the right-field wall, to complete the comeback and give the RiverDogs an 8-2 lead.
Fernandez was removed from the game after recording just two outs and giving up eight runs on six hits, two walks and a homer. His ERA rose from 4.70 to 6.89 on the year. He took the loss to fall to 2-2.
Brett Gerritse tossed six solid innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on seven hits and six strikeouts. Lefty Tyler Webb retired all nine men he faced and fanned six en route to the win to improve to 3-1.
Offensively, the RiverDogs were paced by Aldrich (2-for-5, two runs, three RBIs) and also got multi-hit games from Nunez, Valera, Cave and Bird.
Asheville got a great start from T.J. Oakes, but he didn’t factor in the decision. Oakes shut down the Charleston offense with six scoreless, six-hit innings.
The rubber match of the three-game series is at 2:05 p.m. Sunday. Charleston will send out RHP Luis Niebla (4-6, 4.76 ERA), and the Tourists will counter with RHP Ben Hughes (8-10, 5.75 ERA).
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