School kids come out for Charleston RiverDogs

McKenzie Wilbourn from Minnie Hughes Elementary School cheers during Education Day at Riley Park where the RiverDogs played Wednesday.

Jacarri Seals and Julyun Bonneau bopped up and down as they danced, partially to stay warm, but more so out of excitement.

For weeks the first-grade students from A.C. Corcoran Elementary had been looking forward to Education Day at Riley Park — and on Wednesday, it finally arrived.

The event, hosted by the Charleston RiverDogs, is an opportunity for more than 5,000 students and teachers from the Lowcountry to take a day off from the classroom and hit the ballpark for a South Atlantic League baseball game.

As Seals and Bonneau, both 7, waited in the men’s bathroom line before the 11:05 a.m. first pitch, they could hardly contain their excitement.

“I was surprised and happy,” Seals said of his reaction when his teacher told him about the field trip months ago.

“Not such surprise for me because this is not my first game,” Bonneau chipped in. “(But) I was excited.”

So too were the thousands of other students, who were taken aback with awe when they heard the first crack of the bat in the opening inning.

They danced carelessly to Taylor Swift, Baha Men, the Frozen soundtrack and Walk The Moon.

They ate hotdogs, did the Whip/Nae Nae and the YMCA with no reservations and squealed for the RiverDogs.

It was the quintessential day at the ballpark, and the RiverDogs were able to deliver the perfect ending, when they capped the day with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory.

“It’s wonderful. The weather is beautiful, it’s nice, very well-organized always and it’s nice for them to just be able to come and let loose a little bit,” said Midland Park Primary first grade teacher Alice Alexander. “I think the RiverDogs provide buses for us. Our kids did not have to pay anything to come on this field trip, so it’s nice to be able to offer that to them.”

Though many of the children had left by the seventh inning to make it back to school so they could get home on time, the RiverDogs came alive in that frame, scoring all five of their runs and notching five of their 11 total hits.

After Eduardo Navas doubled, he scored on a Trey Amburgey single to left field. Amburgey and Hoy Jun Park both scored to tie the game, when Jhlan Jackson sent a single through the gap and into center field. Kendall Coleman’s two-RBI single to right field gave the RiverDogs the lead and another insurance run, which proved to be crucial in the eighth when Asheville scored again to make it 5-4.

With the victory, the RiverDogs swept the Tourists and improved to 6-1 on the season heading into a seven-game road trip, which begins Thursday. Of the six victories, four have been in come-from-behind fashion, including three walkoffs.

Manager Luis Dorante said he was glad to see the kids so excited, and was even happier that everyone was safe.

“I told the guys not to get distracted with (the kids) and keep playing their game,” he said.

“It’s always nice to see the kids coming in and not anybody get hurt. It was good to have that support.”