Savannah scored the first six runs en route to an 11-6 win for its third straight victory over the Charleston RiverDogs on Sunday night in front of 3,108 fans at Riley Park in South Atlantic League baseball.
The first-place Sand Gnats (41-19) earned a series victory of 3-1 over the RiverDogs (28-35).
Savannah scored once in the second inning and once in the fourth before breaking the game open with a four-run fifth.
In the fifth, after Rookie Davis (2-6) induced a groundout and garnered a strikeout, Patrick Biondi kept the inning alive with a bunt single. Davis was relieved by Chaz Herbert, who allowed a run-scoring double by Gavin Cecchini. Jeff McNeil drew a walk before L.J. Mazzilli brought in Cecchini with a single. McNeil and Mazzilli then scored on a Dominic Smith double.
Charleston sliced Savannah's lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the fifth. Brandon Thomas had a leadoff double and scored when Michael O'Neill tripled. Tyler Wade doubled to bring in O'Neill, and then three batters later, Wade scored during a single from Jackson Valera. Savannah's Chris Flexen (3-5) closed the inning by leaving the bases loaded to end his start.
The Sand Gnats brought in another two-out run in the seventh for a 7-3 advantage. With two outs and runners on the corners, Smith singled and plated Cecchini to stretch the lead out.
In the bottom of the seventh, the RiverDogs scored and also threatened to tie the contest. Aaron Judge received a one-out walk and came in from first base on a two-out double by Valera. Back-to-back walks filled the bases and brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate, but Sand Gnats reliever Akeel Morris came in to end the inning a strikeout.
Savannah strengthened its lead with a four-run eighth. McNeil cleared the bases on a two-out, three-run double to make it 10-4. Mazzilli singled to score McNeil on the next play for an 11-4 Savannah advantage.
In the final inning, Kale Sumner helped the RiverDogs produce one last rally. Sumner singled against Tyler Vanderheiden with two outs and drove in Reymond Nunez and John Murphy and cut the deficit to 11-6. Vanderheiden responded with a game-ending strikeout to end the contest.
In the longest RiverDogs game of the season, Sunday's series finale lasted three hours and 44 minutes.
To wrap up Larry Doby Heritage Weekend, presented by South Carolina State University, the RiverDogs wore Homestead Grays uniforms while the Sand Gnats sported the jerseys of the Newark Eagles, a team Doby played for early in his professional baseball career. Reggie Hughes, the son of a former Negro Leagues player, threw one of the ceremonial first pitches.
A seven-game RiverDogs road trip begins at the Greenville Drive on Monday at 7:05 p.m. The probable pitchers are Charleston RHP Luis Severino (1-2, 2.88 ERA) and Greenville LHP Trey Ball (1-4, 6.84). The RiverDogs return home to start the second half on June 19 in a nationally televised game against the Kannapolis Intimidators.
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