Miguel Andujar's go-ahead, two-run home run in the first inning sparked the Charleston RiverDogs on their way to a 5-1 win over the Savannah Sand Gnats on Thursday night in front of 5,479 fans at Riley Park in South Atlantic League action.
The RiverDogs snapped an eight-game losing streak and improved to 28-32. The Sand Gnats are now 38-19 while continuing to hold first place in the Southern Division.
Savannah opened the scoring in the top of the first. Jeff McNeil's two-out single against Ian Clarkin kept the inning alive. McNeil advanced to second base on a wild pitch and scored after an L.J. Mazzilli single.
Andujar pushed the RiverDogs in front 2-1 during the home half of the opening inning. Jose Rosario was hit by a pitch from Miller Diaz before Andujar came to the plate. Andujar hit a go-ahead blast to left-center field for his fourth home run of the season.
Charleston would score five unanswered runs, starting with Andujar's home run. In the bottom of the fifth, Dustin Fowler received a leadoff walk and reached second on a balk. After moving to third on a groundout, Fowler scored during a wild pitch to give the RiverDogs a 3-1 lead.
In the sixth inning, the RiverDogs increased their advantage to 5-1. With one out, Rosario walked and Andujar singled to put two runners on base. Mike Ford followed with a double to right field to score Rosario while Andujar came in during a throwing error on the play.
Clarkin held the Sand Gnats scoreless in his final four innings pitched. He also retired the final seven batters that he faced. Angel Rincon relieved Clarkin and tossed three shutout innings. Rincon had his first batter reach on an error before setting down the next nine batters in a row.
The Sand Gnats attempted a comeback during the ninth inning. Rincon allowed a single to L.J. Mazzilli, who advanced to third base on a two-base error that allowed Dominic Smith to get to second base. Rincon struck out Amed Rosario before he was replaced by Philip Walby. After a strikeout and a walk that loaded the bases, Walby induced a ground ball that produced a game-ending force out.
Clarkin earned the victory and is 2-3 this season. Miller Diaz was tagged with his first loss, dropping to 5-1. Walby picked up his second save.
The New York Yankees announced that Charleston RiverDogs right-handed pitchers Jaron Long and Chris Smith were promoted to the Single-A Tampa Yankees.
Long leaves the RiverDogs as the South Atlantic League leader in earned run average, while Smith had a strong start to his debut in affiliated baseball.
In a pair of corresponding moves, Charleston received left-handed pitchers Evan Rutckyj and Chaz Hebert from Tampa.
Prior to Thursday's game, the United States Air Force held a special ceremony for 24 individuals that were sworn into service as new airmen on United States Air Force Night. Amanda Cain was honored as a part of Nurses Night, receiving a $500 scholarship check during an in-game presentation.
Game two of a four-game homestand is set for 7:05 p.m. Friday with Charleston LHP Caleb Smith (4-4, 2.41 ERA) pitching against Savannah RHP Robert Gsellman (3-3, 2.27 ERA).
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