Brandon Thomas scored one run and drove in another to carry a Charleston RiverDogs comeback attempt on Thursday night, but the Rome Braves barely held on for a 3-2 win in front of 4,636 fans at Joe Riley Park in South Atlantic League action.
The RiverDogs fell to 28-26 in the second half and 61-63 overall. The Braves won the series opener and improved to 24-30 this half and 48-76 this season.
Andy Beresford and Yean Carlos Gil matched each other with three early scoreless innings for Charleston and Rome, respectively. Beresford retired the first six batters in his start.
Rome pounced on Charleston to grab a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. Following a leadoff groundout, the Braves loaded the bases on a Jake Schrader walk, a Ross Wilson single and a Carlos Franco walk. Sal Giardina deposited a two-run single to score Schrader and Wilson for the first two runs. Alejandro Piloto brought in Franco with a sacrifice fly to cap the scoring.
Gil finished five shutout innings with only one hit and three baserunners allowed. Gil also set down nine straight batters in a stretch that carried into his fifth and final inning of work.
The RiverDogs started their comeback attempt by scoring on Braves reliever Zach Jadofsky in the sixth inning. Thomas led off with a triple and stayed at third base when Michael O'Neill was hit by a pitch. Tyler Wade drove in Thomas with a single to cut Charleston's deficit to 3-1.
Another RiverDogs run in the seventh inning closed the gap to 3-2. Eduardo de Oleo and Gosuke Katoh opened the frame with singles and advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Jackson Valera. Thomas singled to score de Oleo and put runners in scoring position. However, Rome reliever Richie Tate entered the contest and induced an inning-ending double play that kept the Braves in front.
RiverDogs relievers Conor Mullee and Eric Ruth delivered scoreless pitching in the final 3.1 innings pitched. Mullee and Ruth also combined with Beresford to retire the final 12 Braves batters in a row.
Tate and Pete Perez helped Rome wrap up its one-run victory. Tate faced the minimum in the eighth inning to set up Perez. He opened the inning with back-to-back strikeouts, but Charleston filled the bases with a walk by Katoh, a single from Jackson Valera and a walk for Thomas. Right fielder Connor Lien saved the game with a sliding catch to escape the jam.
Gil evened his record at 6-6 with the victory. Beresford suffered a loss that squared his record at 1-1. Perez claimed his seventh save.
Scottish Heritage Night featured a pregame performance of "Scotland the Brave" by the Charleston Police Pipe Band and an in-game Scottish Lazy Stick competition. Late in Thursday's game, the RiverDogs front office officially took the Ice Bucket Challenge on the field for ALS awareness. The RiverDogs have challenged the Charleston Battery, South Carolina Stingrays, and all sportscasters from major local media outlets to become the next participants in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Game two of the four-game series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Friday with Charleston LHP Justin Kamplain (0-0, 4.76 ERA) pitching against Rome LHP Chris Diaz (0-0, 2.30 ERA).