COLUMBIA — Ripping two triples and scoring three runs in the third inning to take a 3-1 advantage, the Charleston RiverDogs stopped there in a 4-3 loss Tuesday night to the Columbia Fireflies at Spirit Communications Park.
After Jeff Diehl gave Columbia (40-43, 4-9) a 1-0 lead in the second with a two-out solo homer, the RiverDogs thundered back with three in the third. Outfielder Alex Palma led off with a triple down the left field line and scored on Cesar Diaz’s RBI single to right.
Eduardo Navas reached on a fielder’s choice and an error that allowed Diaz to move into third. Gosuke Katoh followed up with a two-out triple to right that made it 3-1.
Columbia pulled even with the RiverDogs (47-34, 5-7) in the bottom of the inning. Shortstop Milton Ramos led off with a single and second baseman J.C. Rodriguez followed with a base hit to center. Luis Ortega drove in Ramos with a single to left and Kevin Kaczmarski made it 3-3 with a sacrifice fly.
Daris Vargas got into a groove after the third, and finished allowing three runs, all earned, on six hits with three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision effort.
Hobie Harris (1-1) took over in the seventh to record the final two outs, and gave up the lead in his second inning. A leadoff walk to Ortega set up an RBI single by Winningham.
Kevin Canelon (5-6) settled in after yielding the big inning to Charleston in the third. The Columbia lefty went eight strong innings allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out six and not walking a batter to pick up the win. Canelon has not allowed more than three runs in any of his 15 starts for the Fireflies this season.
The RiverDogs go for the series victory in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. finale at Spirit Communications Park. The RiverDogs will send LHP Nestor Cortes (5-1, 0.72) to the mound as Columbia counters with RHP Bryce Beeler (1-0, 0.00). The RiverDogs will return to the The Joe for a weeklong homestand from July 12-18.