R'Dogs take series at Rome

A five-run rally in the fourth inning and three more runs in the seventh lifted the Charleston RiverDogs to a 9-2 win over the Rome Braves in the rubber game of a three-game series Friday night at State Mutual Stadium in South Atlantic League action.

Charleston improved to 18-15, while Rome dropped to 10-24. Friday's contest marks the final first-half meeting between these teams. The RiverDogs have a 4-2 edge in the season series.

Tyler Wade put the RiverDogs in front with a go-ahead single in the third inning. Eduardo de Oleo began the frame with a walk before moving to second base on a walk by Gosuke Katoh. After de Oleo advanced on an Abiatal Avelino fly out, Wade produced a single for a 1-0 Charleston lead as de Oleo scored.

In the fourth inning, Charleston exploded for a five-run rally and stretched its lead to 6-0. Katoh's one-out single brought in Brandon Thomas to open the scoring. Avelino loaded the bases with a walk ahead of Wade, who cleared the bases with a triple and knocked Rome's Carlos Salazar out of the contest. Wade added to the advantage when he scored on Mike Ford's two-out double.

Charleston's shutout bid was spoiled by Rome in the bottom of the fifth. The Braves put runners on the corners and had two outs when the RiverDogs brought in Omar Luis for Ian Clarkin. Seth Moranda singled off Luis to score Jacob Schrader and bring Rome within 6-1. In a no decision, Clarkin allowed just three hits and was charged with the run that was scored by Schrader.

The momentum quickly swung back to the RiverDogs as their lead grew to 9-1 in the seventh. Aaron Judge led off with a solo shot over the left-center field scoreboard for his third career home run. Following a Ford walk and a wild pitch, Michael O'Neill tripled and scored on a throwing error for two more runs.

Rome was able to add a run in the ninth and cut the deficit to 9-2, but the RiverDogs closed the inning and the series with no further damage. Luis would earn his first professional victory in relief of Clarkin, while Wade finished with a career-high four runs batted in.

Friday's win moved Luis to a 1-0 record this season. Salazar is 1-3 after the loss, allowing six earned runs and six walks in 3.1 innings pitched.

A seven-game homestand will begin at 6:05 p.m. Saturday with the RiverDogs hosting the Savannah Sand Gnats. Charleston LHP Caleb Smith (3-1, 0.66 ERA) opens against Savannah RHP John Gant (3-1, 2.79 ERA) at Joe Riley Park. The first 1,000 fans through the gates receive a Tony the Peanut Man singing bobblehead, courtesy of WCSC Channel 5, and all fans have a chance to personally enhance their ballpark experience on Social Media on Saturday.