ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Charleston scored three runs in the ninth to force extra innings, then pulled out a 10-9 victory in 10 innings against the Asheville Tourists at McCormick Field.
Trailing by three in the ninth, the RiverDogs (49-36 overall, 7-9 second half) put the tying run at second base, and an inch would be the difference. With the RiverDogs down to their last strike, Charleston catcher Audie Afenir hit a jam shot to straightaway center that landed just past the outstretched glove of Tourists center fielder Terry McClure to tie the game. The RiverDogs finished off their most impressive comeback victory of the season with a pair of runs in the top of the 10th and working out of a jam against ASheville (42-43, 8-8) in the bottom of the inning.
With the RiverDogs trailing, 8-5, heading into the top of the ninth, shortstop Hoy Jun Park led off with a solo home run to right, his first of the season. After Kyle Holder grounded out to second, Jeff Hendrix singled to put the tying run up at the plate. First baseman Chris Gittens, who had a two-run homer earlier in the game, crushed a double off the top of the wall in right field to put runners at second and third, and a sacrifice fly by Mandy Alvarez cut the deficit to one before Afenir’s tying single.
After Charleston relievers Justin Kamplain and Garrett Mundell (1-2) combined for a scoreless frame, the RiverDogs carried their ninth-inning momentum into the 10th. Alex Palma ripped a double to left to begin the inning, and Park drew a walk with one out. Holder laid down a bunt on a squeeze play that scored Palma to give the RiverDogs a 9-8 lead. Jeff Hendrix added a necessary insurance run with a single to center that made it 10-8.
In the bottom half, Mundell was shaky to start but got the job done. The Fresno State product walked back-to-back batters with one out before Asheville right fielder Yonathan Daza singled to make it a one-run ballgame. Mundell struck out Chris Keck and coaxed a flyout by Hamlet Marte to end the game.
The three-run deficit matched the biggest comeback victory for the RiverDogs this season. Alexander Guillen blew his first save of the season in five chances for Asheville in the ninth, and Hayden Jones (0-1) took the loss.
Charleston got on the board first to jump on Asheville starter Jesus Tinoco. Park singled to lead off the game and scored on Hendrix’s one-out double to right center. After Gittens drew a walk, Mandy Alvarez singled to center the ball was juggled by McClure that allowed Hendrix to score and make it 2-0. On the next play, Afenir drove a double to left to score Gittens, but Alvarez was cut down at the plate to limit the RiverDogs’ early lead to 3-0.
Asheville got two runs back in the second, one on a solo homer by Keck. Marte singled and eventually scored on a passed ball to make it a one-run game.
Gittens padded Charleston’s lead back to three in the third when he smashed a line shot over the wall in left, a two-run bomb for his 15th of the season, to make it 5-2 RiverDogs.
In the bottom of the third after a one-out single by Daza, Keck took RiverDogs starter Christian Morris deep once again, this time with a two-run homer that made it 5-4.
With two outs in the fifth, Morris issued a walk to Keck on his 98th pitch of the game and exited. Charleston lefty Kamplain entered, and his first pitch was promptly ripped to left for a home run by Marte that gave the Tourists their first lead at 6-5.
Morris allowed five runs on four hits across 42/3 innings while striking out six and walking four in a no-decision effort.
Asheville appeared to have the game in hand in the sixth when they added two more in the sixth on a two RBI single by Mundell that pushed the home side’s lead to 8-5.
The RiverDogs go for the series victory over the Tourists in Sunday’s finale at 2:05 p.m. at McCormick Field. The RiverDogs will send RHP Luis Cedeno (5-3, 4.10 ERA) as the Tourists counter with RHP Trey Killian (6-4, 4.84). Charleston returns for a seven-day homestand from July 12-18, taking on the Rome Braves and the Lakewood BlueClaws at The Joe.
Ticket information for the RiverDogs homestand and any of the remaining home games can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. Tickets for Game Two of the SAL Divisional Series on Friday, September 9 at 7:05pm at The Joe are now available. Those that can’t make it to the park can follow every pitch of the RiverDogs season on WTMA 1250-AM and streaming online at riverdogs.com.