SAVANNAH - The Savannah Sand Gnats rattled off 10 straight runs in Thursday night's game against the Charleston RiverDogs, whose late rally came up short in a 10-5 Sand Gnats win at Grayson Stadium in South Atlantic League action.
Charleston is 3-12 in the second half and 36-49 overall. Savannah is currently 11-4 and 55-26, respectively. The RiverDogs are on a seven-game losing streak, and the Sand Gnats have won seven straight contests.
In the top of the first inning, errors helped the RiverDogs take a 1-0 lead. A throwing error on a potential inning-ending double play allowed Dustin Fowler to reach third base. Fowler scored when Tyler Wade hit a ground ball to first base that led to another error. At the end of the frame, Miguel Andujar was called out at home plate while trying to score on a Jackson Valera single.
The Sand Gnats answered with a game-tying run in the bottom of the first. Champ Stuart got on base with a bunt single ahead of Dominic Smith, who doubled to score Stuart and tie the game at 1-1. Smith was thrown out at third base when he tried to stretch his hit into a triple.
Savannah went in front 3-1 in the second inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Jonathan Johnson drew a walk to force in Victor Cruzado for the go-ahead run. Yeixon Ruiz nearly bounced into a double play, but Colton Plaia scored when only out was made on the play.
Extra offense in the fifth and sixth innings stretched the advantage to 5-1. Smith was brought in during the fifth on a two-out single by Cole Frenzel. In the sixth, the Sand Gnats put together three straight singles that scored Stefan Sabol.
Sand Gnats starter Alex Panteliodis gave up only one unearned run in the opening frame before holding the RiverDogs scoreless in the rest of his outing. Panteliodis pitched seven innings, struck out four and walked just two.
Savannah made the contest a blowout by adding more runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Johnson had a bases-clearing double in the seventh that brought in Frenzel, Cruzado and Plaia. In the eighth, Stuart was driven in on a single from Frenzel while Cruzado legged out a potential inning-ending play at first that allowed Matt Oberste to score.
The RiverDogs rallied for four runs in the ninth inning. Valera led off with a single before Reymond Nunez was hit by a pitch. John Murphy singled to bring in Valera. Two batters later, Michael O'Neill launched his eighth home run of the season. O'Neill's three-run blast sliced Savannah's lead to 10-5, but Charleston was unable to cut the difference further.
Panteliodis is 2-1 after receiving credit for the victory. Charleston starter Caleb Smith dropped to 4-7 with the loss, allowing three runs in three innings pitched.
The RiverDogs open a six-game homestand on the Fourth of July, hosting the Rome Braves at 6:35 p.m. Thursday. Charleston will start LHP Omar Luis (2-2, 6.14 ERA), while Rome has not announced its starter. Wells Fargo sponsors the Independence Day Celebration, featuring downtown Charleston's only Fourth of July fireworks display. The RiverDogs will wear red jerseys for ISHPI Red Shirt Friday as well as special "Stars & Stripes" caps from New Era Cap Company to benefit Welcome Back Veterans.