Charleston has waited 99 years for another minor league baseball championship.
Lowcountry fans will have to wait one more night.
The Down East Wood Ducks with a 7-5 victory before a Sept. 24 sellout crowd of 6,224 at Riley Park cut the Charleston RiverDogs’ lead to 2-1 in a best-of-five Low-A East Championship Series.
The Wood Ducks jumped on starter Sandy Gaston for a three-run first inning with run-scoring doubles from Cody Freeman and Thomas Saggese. Down East center fielder Jayce Easley, the son of former major leaguer Damion Easley, scored twice.
Right-hander Nick Krauth (6-9) gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings to get the victory.
The RiverDogs rallied with three runs in the ninth, two on a homer by designated hitter Alexander Ovalles, to cut the Down East lead to 7-5. All before right-hander Eudrys Manon came on to strike out three batters in a row.
Charleston won the first two games of the series in Kinston, N.C. The teams meet Sept. 25 at 6:05 p.m. at Riley Park for Game 4.
Game 5, if necessary, is set for Sept. 26 at 5:05 p.m. at Riley Park.
It all started with so much Friday fun for the RiverDogs: a pep talk sent from co-owner Bill Murray was played for players and fans on the Riley Park video board.
“Tonight,” Murray said from a bull ring in Spain, “is a night of destiny.”
The crowd easily topped the RiverDogs’ season attendance average of 3,660, which was second-best in the Low-A East behind Augusta’s 3,712.
The first 1,500 fans got “Let’s Go Dogs” T-shirts.
The 1908 Charleston Sea Gulls and 1922 Charleston Pals are the only Charleston teams to win minor league baseball titles.
The 2021 RiverDogs, a Tampa Bay Rays affiliate that went 82-38, set a Charleston record with a .683 winning percentage.
But the Wood Ducks were 72-46 and first in the league with 38 road victories.
Matt Dyer’s two-run home run to left in the fourth inning gave Charleston a lift, cutting the Down East lead to 6-2.