A four-run opening frame paced the Greensboro Grasshopper to a 6-2 victory over the Charleston RiverDogs in front of a sell-out crowd of 5,660 fans in South Atlantic League action at Riley Park on Friday night.
Charleston finds itself in the middle of a four-game losing streak and fell to 31-36 this half, 62-74 overall. Greensboro moved to one game above .500 at 34-33 in the second half, 66-71 overall.
The loss also clinched a losing season at The Joe with a record of 31-36, marking just the third losing campaign in the 14-year history of the park, and first since 1999.
Greensboro wasted little time getting on the board, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first against Charleston's Wilton Rodriguez (0-1). After Jose Duarte walked to open the game and stole second base, Chad Cregar blasted his 16th double of the year to the wall in right center-field to drive in Duarte, giving Greensboro a 1-0 advantage.
Cregar then moved to third on Kyle Skipworth's bloop single to center field. Kyle Jensen's team-leading 26th double delivered Cregar to boost the lead to 2-0. Christian Yelich's RBI groundout pushed it to 3-0 Greensboro. Chris Wade followed that with an RBI fielder's choice.
Rodriguez, who made two starts for Charleston at the end of the 2009 season, allowed just one more hit after the first in working 4 2/3 innings, while surrendering four runs with four walks and three punchouts.
Michael Pasek's RBI single to center field increased the Greensboro lead to 5-0 in the top of the sixth.
The RiverDogs finally got on board on Taylor Grote's bloop single to shallow left scoring Emerson Landoni in the bottom of the sixth. The run broke an 18-inning scoreless streak for the offense.
A wild pitch from Chris Shafer later in the inning scored Rob Lyerly to cut into the deficit at 5-2.
Grasshoppers starter Jose Alvarez (10-3) earned the victory to tie for third-most in the SAL, permitting two runs in 5 1/3 innings of three-hit ball, while issuing a pair of walks with two strikeouts in his first start since July 22. Sandy Rosario pitched the final three hitless innings with six strikeouts to notch his sixth save.
The second game of the four-game series between the RiverDogs and the Grasshoppers is set for Saturday at 7:05 p.m., with Charleston sending right-hander Brett Marshall (4-2, 2.50) to face off against Greensboro right-hander Robert Morey (1-2, 3.43).
The team honored Edwin Gardner at the ballpark for Bike Night. Gardner was a local activist in Charleston who was killed in July while riding his bike. The team paid tribute to Gardner by encouraging fans to ride their bikes to Friday's game to receive discount admission. There was even a bike valet for those fans. Also the special red jerseys the team wore every Friday game at The Joe were up for auctions, with all proceeds going to the Air Force Aid Society.