ROME, GA - Mike Ford and Eduardo de Oleo each hit late home runs and Abiatal Avelino earned four base hits in a comeback effort for the Charleston RiverDogs, but the Rome Braves held on to a 5-4 victory on Wednesday evening at State Mutual Stadium in South Atlantic League action.
Charleston's record is now 16-15 while Rome climbs to 10-22. This win gives the Braves an early 1-0 lead in this three-game set and evens the season series at two wins apiece.
The Braves opened the scoring in the home half of the first inning. Back-to-back walks were followed by two outs before Victor Reyes singled to score Connor Oliver for the first run. Rome's lead improved to 2-0 when Victor Caratini came in on a Joey Meneses single.
In the second, Charleston sliced the deficit to 2-1. Ford's leadoff single was complemented by a double from Michael O'Neill that moved Ford to third base. John Murphy responded with a groundout that allowed Ford to score. Two more outs closed the inning on the RiverDogs.
Rome added another run for a 3-1 advantage in the bottom of the third. With one out and runners on the corners, Charleston starter Rookie Davis handled a bunt from Johan Camargo and had a play at home plate. However, A.J. Kirby-Jones managed to score and double Rome's lead.
As the lead grew, Yean Carlos Gil settled in for Rome. Gil faced the minimum from the third inning through the fifth. He allowed a third-inning single to Avelino, but Gil picked him off before Avelino was caught stealing. Gil also struck out six in his five innings of work, including back-to-back called strikeouts to end his outing.
The Braves improved their lead after Gil finished his work. A leadoff walk to Kirby-Jones in the sixth preceded a call to the bullpen for Charleston's Jaron Long. The inherited runner would score as singles by Reyes and Meneses moved Kirby-Jones home. Oliver opened the seventh inning with a double and gave the Braves a 5-1 advantage on a two-single from Reyes.
Solo home runs gave Charleston life in the seventh inning against Navery Moore. Ford opened the frame with a blast to right field before de Oleo smacked a two-out shot to center field. For each player, it was the fourth home run of the season.
The come-from-behind effort continued for the RiverDogs in the eighth. Charleston came within 5-4 when Avelino doubled in Mikeson Oliberto off Rome's Richie Tate. Avelino stayed at second through a groundout and a walk before Tate was replaced by Pete Perez. A pair of Perez strikeouts ended the potential rally and kept the Braves in front. Perez also finished the ninth, picking off a potential tying run at first base and retiring the side.
Gil earned the victory and improved to 3-1. Davis slid to 2-3 after his third consecutive loss. Perez claimed the first save of his professional career.
COMING UP: Game two of this three-game series is scheduled for 10:30am on Thursday morning. Charleston RHP Luis Severino (0-1, 2.16 ERA) will square off with Rome LHP Chuck Buchanan (1-2, 2.63 ERA). A seven-game RiverDogs homestand begins on Saturday, May 10 with a "Tony the Peanut Man" Singing Bobblehead Giveaway, courtesy of WCSC Channel 5, and another Social Media Saturday. Tickets may be purchased at the Riley Park Box Office, (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or on-line at www.riverdogs.com. If fans cannot make it to the ballpark, they are encouraged to tune in to all the action this year both home and away worldwide on www.riverdogs.com and locally on 1250 WTMA, the new radio home for RiverDogs baseball.
Box Score: http://atmilb.com/1jC53kL
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.