GREENVILLE - A six-run deficit was too much to overcome for the Charleston RiverDogs in a 7-2 loss to the Greenville Drive on Wednesday night at Fluor Field in South Atlantic League action.
Sam Travis, Danny Bethea and Franklin Guzman blasted early home runs while Greenville starting pitcher Myles Smith recorded a career-high eight strikeouts.
The RiverDogs fell back to 31-28 in the second half and 64-65 overall. The Drive improved to 19-40 and 53-75, respectively.
Smith blanked Charleston over the first five innings, allowing just one hit in those scoreless frames. Despite a pair of first-inning walks, he kept the RiverDogs scoreless and started a stretch of eight consecutive batters retired until an infield single by Yeicok Calderon in the fourth.
Greenville claimed a quick 1-0 lead during the bottom of the first. A two-out walk drawn by Wendell Rijo extended the inning for Travis, who doubled against Andy Beresford to bring in Rijo and put Greenville on the scoreboard.
Travis increased the Drive's advantage to 3-0 with a two-run blast in the third inning. Rijo reached on a one-out single before Travis snuck a home run into the short porch in right field. Fluor Field, which features similar dimensions to Fenway Park, includes a right-field foul pole that sits just 302 feet from home plate. Travis' clout to right field was his second for Greenville.
In the fourth inning, Cole Sturgeon drove in Danny Mars for a 4-0 Greenville advantage. Mars led off with a walk. After a lineout, Mars stole second base and scored on a double by Sturgeon.
Bethea and Guzman cleared Fluor Field's version of the Green Monster in the fifth. Both home runs were solo shots to left field against RiverDogs reliever Giovanny Gallegos. This pushed Greenville's lead to 6-0 through the end of five innings.
Brandon Thomas broke up the shutout in the sixth inning and cut Charleston's deficit to 6-2. An error allowed Tyler Wade to get on base to begin the frame. Following back-to-back strikeouts, Yeicok Calderon walked, and Jackson Valera was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Thomas hit a bloop single that scored Wade and Calderon, bringing the RiverDogs within four.
Greenville's Jason Garcia replaced Smith to finish the sixth and silenced the RiverDogs by inducing a one-pitch groundout that closed the rally. Smith exited with a career-high eight strikeouts over 5.2 innings pitched.
A late run for the Drive boosted the lead to 7-2 in the eighth inning. Greenville picked up a baserunner with a one-out walk for Sturgeon. A wild pitch by Evan Rutckyj moved Sturgeon to second base before he advanced to third during a groundout from Tzu-Wei Lin. Another wild pitch allowed Sturgeon to score.
With the victory, Smith increased his record to 5-9. Beresford was charged with the loss and dropped to 1-2. Garcia closed the contest for his second save of the season.
The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for Thursday at 7:05 p.m. with RiverDogs LHP Justin Kamplain (0-0, 5.59 ERA) to square off against Drive RHP Ty Buttrey (0-3, 6.68 ERA).