The Charleston RiverDogs were held to just four hits in a 4-0 loss to the Savannah Sand Gnats on Saturday night in front of 4,458 fans at Riley Park in South Atlantic League baseball.
Savannah native John Gant tossed seven scoreless innings, combining with two relievers on the shutout.
The RiverDogs fell to 28-34 and head into Sunday's series finale trailing 2-1 in the series.
For the third straight game of this series, the first-place Sand Gnats (40-19) scored in the first inning. Gavin Cecchini got into scoring position after a one-out double. L.J. Mazzilli drove in Cecchini on a two-out single to put Savannah in front, 1-0.
Savannah added three more runs in the fifth inning, extending the lead to 4-0. The Sand Gnats opened the frame with three straight singles, driving in Stefan Sabol in the process. After a double play, Jeff McNeil doubled to score Colton Plaia. Mazzilli singled and allowed Patrick Biondi to come in for the final run of the rally.
Gant pitched with a lead throughout his seven scoreless innings. In the first inning, Aaron Judge was stranded at second base after his two-out double. Gant hit Brandon Thomas with a pitch in the third inning, but Thomas was caught stealing second, and Gant retired the next nine batters that he faced. Gosuke Katoh doubled in the sixth inning and Eduardo de Oleo singled in the seventh for the only other RiverDogs hits against Gant, who struck out five.
Tim Peterson and Robert Coles relieved Gant (6-2) and finished the shutout with a scoreless inning apiece. In the eighth, Peterson allowed a single to Katoh before the inning came to a close with a double play. Coles pitched a perfect ninth inning in a non-save situation.
Charleston's Brady Lail (7-3) allowed four runs while striking out five in five innings pitched.
Edward Holton celebrated his 50th birthday at the game in a special seating section that was visited by South Carolina State University President Thomas J. Elzey. Elzey was in Holton's section to sing the seventh-inning stretch while representing SCSU's sponsorship of Larry Doby Heritage Weekend. The weekend started with the Jackie Robinson Kansas City Monarchs Jersey Giveaway, courtesy of WCSC Channel 5, and pregame recognition of the 1955 Cannon Street All-Stars.
Charleston closes a four-game homestand against Savannah with the series finale on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. The scheduled pitchers are RiverDogs RHP Rookie Davis (2-5, 5.55 ERA) and Sand Gnats RHP Chris Flexen (2-5, 5.63). South Carolina State continues to present Larry Doby Heritage Weekend, which wraps up on Sunday with both teams in Negro Leagues uniforms and appearances from former Negro League players. It is also Kids Club Sunday, which includes Kids Eat Free from Pepsi, and parking is free for the game. Tickets may be purchased at the Riley Park Box Office, (843) 577-3647 or online at www.riverdogs.com.
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