LEXINGTON, KY. - Charleston RiverDogs starter Luis Severino locked up with Lexington Legends starter Jake Junis in a close contest Saturday night that Severino and Charleston won by a 3-1 margin at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in South Atlantic League action.
Charleston improved to 32-37, while Lexington dropped to 29-40. The RiverDogs own a 2-1 lead in the series, with Severino winning back-to-back starts for the first time in his career.
Two quick RiverDogs runs created a 2-0 Charleston lead in the top of the first. Michael O'Neill led off the game with a double and came home after a single by Tyler Wade. Three batters later, Dustin Fowler collected a run-scoring single that brought in Wade.
Lexington cut Charleston's lead in half in bottom of the first. After Severino began the frame with a strikeout, Ramon Torres doubled to get into scoring position. Following a strikeout and a walk, Elier Hernandez singled to score Torres and slice Lexington's deficit to 2-1.
The RiverDogs restored their two-run lead in the third inning, improving to a 3-1 advantage. Aaron Judge's one-out single set up Reymond Nunez, who doubled off the glove of Lexington third baseman Mauricio Ramos. Judge scored from first base on the extra-base knock.
Severino and Junis each found a rhythm after Judge's run. Severino retired the final 12 batters that he faced and closed the sixth inning by striking out Ramos on a 96 mph fastball. He tied a season high with eight strikeouts, while his six innings pitched matched a career high in a quality start. Meanwhile, Junis answered Nunez's double by setting down the next nine batters in a row and completed seven innings during a quality start of his own.
RiverDogs reliever Evan Rutckyj followed Severino with two shutout innings. Rutckyj added to Severino's streak as Charleston collectively retired 14 straight batters before a two-out single in the seventh inning by Dominique Taylor. Rutckyj also stranded a runner at third in the eighth.
In the bottom of the ninth, Charleston's Philip Walby entered the game to wrap up the victory. He struck out Ramos before he walked Hernandez. Walby followed with back-to-back strikeouts for the final outs. In nine road outings, Walby has not allowed a run over 11.2 innings pitched.
Severino is 3-2 following his second straight win on this road trip. He opened the week with a victory at the Greenville Drive on Monday. Junis was tagged with a tough loss and is now 7-4. Walby garnered his fourth save of the season.
The finale of the four-game series and seven-game RiverDogs road trip will be played at 6:05 p.m. Sunday. Charleston LHP Ian Clarkin (2-3, 4.17 ERA) is slated to face Lexington LHP Crawford Simmons (1-1, 8.10 ERA).