For the third time in four days, the Charleston RiverDogs walked off over Columbia as they clinched the opening series of the season on a two-run single by Thairo Estrada in the bottom of the ninth in front of 4,087 at Riley Park on Sunday night.
With a 2-1 count with the bases loaded and nobody out, Estrada hit a high chopper over Fireflies first baseman Jeff Diehl into right field, scoring Angel Aguilar and Hoy Jun Park, capping yet another walk-off victory for the RiverDogs.
Columbia nursed a one-run lead with closer Witt Haggard (0-2) entering in the bottom of the eighth. After a 1-2-3 inning, Haggard ran into trouble in the ninth.
Haggard issued three straight walks to the RiverDogs’ 8-9-1 batters, which led to Estrada’s walk-off two-run single.
The RiverDogs trailed 5-2 in the seventh before rallying. Aguilar led off with a scorching home run that wrapped around the left-field foul pole for the first RiverDogs homer of the season. Columbia reliever Seth Davis then plunked the next batter, Eduardo Navas. After a strikeout, Estrada roped a triple into deep right center field, scoring Navas easily to cut the lead to 5-4.
Estrada finished 2 for 5 with a triple and three RBIs.
Charleston starter Simon De la Rosa breezed through the first inning before finding trouble in the second. After recording the first two outs quickly, De la Rosa proceeded to give up four walks and a double, relenting to two runs, before being lifted for Cody Carroll. De la Rosa went just 12/3 innings, giving up two runs on two hits, four walks and three strikeouts.
Carroll came in inheriting bases loaded with two outs, down 2-0, and promptly struck out Vinny Siena to get out of the jam. Carroll worked another 12/3 innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on four hits, three walks, and five strikeouts.
Columbia struck for two in the fifth as Dash Winningham led the inning off with a single to center and J. C. Rodriguez followed with a triple to right-center, but would score on a throwing error on Estrada during the relay.
Charleston’s bullpen came to the rescue as Travis Hissong and Andrew Schwaab (2-0) worked the final 42/3 innings, giving up just three hits, no runs and three strikeouts, holding the Fireflies at bay.
Trouble found Charleston again in the top of the fourth as Joe Tushcak led off the inning with a double to left center. After a passed ball that allowed Tuschak to advance to third, then a strikeout of Wilson, Kevin Kaczmarski drove in Tuschak with an RBI single to left field that made it 3-0 Fireflies.
The RiverDogs brought the game within a run in the bottom of the fourth with two runs of their own. Trey Amburgey got the rally going with a double to right field, which was then followed by two more doubles to left from Chris Gittens and Connor Spencer. Both Gittens and Spencer picked up the RBIs.
Kevin Canelon got the start on the bump for Columbia, working four innings of five hit ball, giving up two runs on two walks, and six strikeouts.
The RiverDogs unveiled their new Holy City Sunday jerseys for the first time this season, which saw great action in the win against Columbia. The RiverDogs will rebrand themselves as the “Holy City RiverDogs” for every Sunday home game this season as they celebrate Charleston’s unique namesake and history.
The RiverDogs, the Class-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, will begin their second series of the season, a three-game stint with the Asheville Tourists, the Class-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, beginning Monday. The RiverDogs present their first Blackbaud Dogs With A Cause Dog Day in association with Camp Bow Wow. The RiverDogs will roll out RHP Brody Koerner (0-0, 0.00), while the Tourists will send RHP Trey Killian (0-0, 0.00). For those that can’t make it out to the ballpark, the game can be heard on WTMA 1250-AM and online at riverdogs.com. For ticket information, call (843)577-DOGS (3647) or go online at www.riverdogs.com.