A long contest on Friday night ended with a 7-4 Rome Braves win over the Charleston RiverDogs in front of a sellout crowd of 6,081 fans at Joe Riley Park in South Atlantic League action.
Rome's Sean Godfrey went 3-for-5 with three runs and fell a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.
The RiverDogs dropped to 28-27 in the second half and 61-64 overall. The Braves improved to 25-30 and 49-76, respectively. Friday's contest lasted three hours and 15 minutes.
In the first inning, both teams scratched the scoreboard. Godfrey reached safely on a two-out single, stole second base and scored on a Jacob Schrader triple for a 1-0 Braves lead. Charleston's Brandon Thomas led off with a single and moved to second base on a Tyler Wade groundout. A pair of wild pitches allowed Thomas to score and tie the game at 1-1.
Jackson Valera carried the RiverDogs to a 3-1 lead in the third inning. Braves starting pitcher Chris Diaz walked the bases loaded and was replaced by Brandon Barker. Valera greeted Barker with a two-run single that plated Miguel Andujar and Mike Ford to put Charleston in front.
Rome answered in the fourth inning by tying the game at 3-3. After Charleston starting pitcher Justin Kamplain recorded a strikeout, Carlos Franco singled and Alejandro Piloto doubled to put two runners in scoring position. Sal Giardina scored both runners on a single to even the score.
The Braves also produced back-to-back-to-back hits in the top of the fifth to take a 5-3 lead. Ross Wilson tagged Giovanny Gallegos with a one-out double. Wilson scored on a triple from Godfrey. Schrader singled to drive in Godfrey and extend the advantage.
Charleston sliced the difference to 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth. Michael O'Neill led off with a single and reached third base after a stolen base and a throwing error. A passed ball helped O'Neill score to cut the deficit in half.
Rome added to its lead with runs in the seventh and eighth innings for a 7-4 advantage. During the seventh, Godfrey recorded a one-out double and scored when Franco hit a single that was coupled with an error. Giardina opened the eighth with his first professional home run, sending a solo shot over the right-field wall.
The victory was credited to Barker, who climbed to 5-1 this season. Gallegos took the loss and slipped to 5-5. Andy Otero pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his third save of the year.
RiverDogs hitting coach Edwar Gonzalez and his wife, Lorena, are now the proud parents of Edwar Gonzalez Jr., the couple's second child. Before Friday's contest, Reese Havens, David Hoffman and Billy Swails Jr. were officially enshrined in the Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame. The RiverDogs wore their red jerseys for the final time on the last ISHPI Red Shirt Friday from 103.5 WEZL. Those red jerseys were also auctioned off during the game.
Game three of the four-game series is on tap for 6:05 p.m. Saturday. RiverDogs RHP Gabe Encinas (0-2, 6.50 ERA) will pitch against Braves RHP Tyler Brosius (5-7, 4.54 ERA).
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