ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Despite a quick four-run lead, featuring a two-run home run for Reymond Nunez, the Charleston RiverDogs lost a 10-8 decision to the Asheville Tourists on a three-run walk-off home run by Ashley Graeter on Tuesday night at McCormick Field in South Atlantic League action.
Graeter smashed two home runs in the contest, including the game-winning blast.
The RiverDogs fell to 20-18 in the second half and 53-55 overall. The Tourists jumped to 29-10 and 70-38, respectively. Charleston and Asheville split this series by a 2-2 margin, while the RiverDogs still recorded a winning road trip with five wins in seven contests.
Nunez highlighted a four-run, two-out rally in the first inning as the RiverDogs pounced on the Tourists for a 4-0 lead. With two outs and a pair of runners in scoring position, Michael O'Neill singled a 1-2 pitch up the middle to score Abiatal Avelino and Tyler Wade. Nunez blasted the very next pitch for a deep home run to left field. His two-run blast was his fifth home run of the season with the RiverDogs.
In the bottom of third, Asheville sliced its deficit in half to 4-2. Back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt coupled with an error immediately loaded the bases. Ryan McMahon hit a popup that resulted in a sacrifice infield fly to Avelino, scoring Alec Mehrten from third base when the ball was dropped and mishandled. After a force out, Jordan Patterson singled in Raimel Tapia.
Charleston added a run in the fourth to stretch its advantage to 5-2. Following two straight groundouts, Kale Sumner reached on an error to extend the inning. A single from Brandon Thomas sent Sumner to third base. Mark Payton drove in Sumner with a single of his own.
The RiverDogs pushed their lead to 7-2 with a pair of runs in the fifth inning. Miguel Andujar reached on a one-out single and took second base on a passed ball. Andujar scored during a single by O'Neill, who went to second on a throw to home plate. Two batters later, John Murphy came through with a single to plate O'Neill and increase Charleston's lead.
The Tourists forged a three-run rally in the sixth to get within 7-5. A single by Graeter and a Dillon Thomas double put a pair of runners in scoring position for Wilfredo Rodriguez, who brought in Graeter with an infield single while sending Thomas to third base. Mehrten followed with a double to score Thomas and Rodriguez, capping the scoring in that rally.
During the eighth inning, another RiverDogs run helped keep the lead safe for the time being. Murphy drew a leadoff walk to start the frame. Kale Sumner singled and was put out while trying to advance to second base, moving Murphy to third base on the play. Brandon Thomas drove in Murphy with a double that gave Charleston an 8-5 advantage.
Asheville went deep to lead off the eighth inning and cut its deficit to 8-6. Graeter opened the eighth inning with a solo home run for his seventh round tripper of the season.
The ninth inning began and ended with home runs in a victorious Tourist rally. Raimel Tapia delivered his eighth home run of the year, a leadoff solo shot to start the frame. Later in the ninth, Asheville put the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position, and Graeter closed the contest with his eighth blast with the Tourists, a three-run walk-off clout.
Asheville's Matt Pierpont claimed his second victory to move to 2-0. Charleston's Evan Rutckyj was charged with a blown save and a loss, falling to 3-1.
After an off day on Wednesday, the RiverDogs will return to Riley Park on Thursday to host a 7:05 p.m. series opener against the Hagerstown Suns. Charleston LHP Chaz Hebert (1-2, 3.05 ERA) is scheduled to face Hagerstown RHP Lucas Giolito (6-2, 2.34 ERA).