The Charleston RiverDogs came from behind with a season-high eight runs in the eighth inning, pulling away for a 13-6 win over the Greenville Drive on Wednesday afternoon in front 4,186 fans at Riley Park in South Atlantic League action.
The win locks up a three-game sweep and guarantees that Charleston will win the inaugural Battle of the Palmetto State Rivalry Series and claim the Spinx Rivalry Series Trophy.
The RiverDogs improved to 8-13 in the second half and 41-50 overall after their fifth straight win. The Drive slid to 3-18 and 37-53, respectively, while suffering their 16th consecutive loss. Charleston guaranteed a win in this in-state rivalry with an 11-4 mark with six meetings left.
Dustin Fowler launched the RiverDogs to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Michael O'Neill and Tyler Wade recorded singles on back-to-back pitches to open the frame. On a 2-0 count, Fowler drove a home run to right field that put Charleston ahead. It was Fowler's eighth home run of the season.
Over the second and third innings, Greenville came back to the tie the game at 3-3. An error off a two-out ground ball in the second allowed Carlos Asuaje to score. In the third, Asuaje and Kevin Mager brought in runs with back-to-back two-out extra-base hits. Asuaje scored Tzu-Wei Lin with a double and came in during Mager's game-tying triple.
Charleston reclaimed the lead in the sixth with a pair of runs. A pair of one-out walks set the table for Jackson Valera, who singled to drive in Eduardo de Oleo. Mark Payton scored on a squeeze bunt from Gosuke Katoh that pushed the RiverDogs to a 5-3 lead.
Greenville rallied in the top of the eighth to take its first lead at 6-5. With two outs and two runners on base, Carlos Coste, Aneudis Peralta, and Cole Sturgeon came through with three consecutive run-scoring singles that helped the Drive take the lead. All six Greenville runs on Wednesday were scored with two outs.
The RiverDogs responded with a season-best eight-run rally, climbing to a 13-6 lead in the bottom of the eighth. Valera's one-out double tied the game before Katoh's two-run double put Charleston in front. After a pop out, Katoh scored when the potential inning-ending pop out landed by second base. Tyler Wade drew a walk ahead of Fowler, who doubled to drive in Michael O'Neill. Mike Ford followed with his ninth home run of the year, a three-run shot.
Evan Rutckyj picked up the victory and is now 3-0 for Charleston. Greenville's Jason Garcia took the loss and is 0-1 following his 2014 Drive debut. Katoh's go-ahead double in the eighth extended his team-best hit streak to a career-high 12 consecutive games.
Charleston hosted its annual Big Splash Day, complete with water balloons, squirt guns, and water hoses that doused fans before and throughout the game. Many fans in attendance wore swimming suits and similar apparel while experiencing the aquatic amusement. RiverDogs broadcast Sean Houston changed booths and served as the public address announcer at Riley Park for the first time.
Charleston heads on the road for a four-game series at Savannah that starts at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. RiverDogs RHP Gabe Encinas (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his 2014 Charleston debut against Sand Gnats RHP Ricky Knapp (3-5, 4.28 ERA).
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