CHARLESTON, SC - The Greensboro Grasshoppers took advantage of four Charleston errors to win the series opener 8-4 on Friday night at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in front of 4,914 fans. The loss snapped a six-game win streak for the RiverDogs.
With the win, the RiverDogs fall to 18-12 in the second half and 57-41 overall. Charleston stays in second place behind the Lexington Legends. With the win, Greensboro improves to 16-16 in the second half and 49-52 overall.
It was not a pretty game with the two teams combining to throw an incredible 479 pitches. Also, neither starting pitcher made it past the fourth inning.
Charleston got the scoring started early with a solo homer by Cito Culver, his eighth of the year, in the bottom of the first inning to go up 1-0. Greensboro tied it up in the top of the second though on a two-out RBI single by Jose Behar.
Mt. Pleasant, SC native and former College of Charleston star Daniel Aldrich made his home debut for Charleston in front of dozens of family and friends, and in his first at-bat he tripled to right field in the bottom of the second. The very next batter Nick McCoy then doubled down the left field line to score Aldrich and put the RiverDogs back on top 2-1. McCoy had a great game reaching base all five time he went to plate with a single, double, two walks, and a hit by pitch.
A three-run top of the third inning saw Greensboro take their first lead of the game at 4-2, but that wouldn't last long.
Dante Bichette, Jr. crushed a monster homer over the left field wall, his ninth long ball of the year, to tie the game at 4-4 in the home half of the third inning. However, the Grasshoppers yet again answered right back with another three runs in the top of the fourth and go up 7-4.
Both starters struggled with Charleston's Evan Rutckyj leaving after 3 innings. He allowed four hits, four runs only one of which was earned, one walk and four strikeouts. Greensboro's starting pitch Daniel Oliver last just a bit longer going 3.2 innings. He gave up four runs on six hits, four walks and seven strikeouts. Neither starter factored in the decision.
The first guy out of the bullpen for each team took the decision with Luis Niebla for the 'Dogs falling to 4-6 with the loss and Sean Donatello going to 1-0 for Greensboro with the win. Niebla allowed three runs, only one earned, on two hits in three innings of work with one walk and three strikeouts. Donatello was very good and did not allow a hit and walked just two in 2.1 scoreless innings of work.
The Grasshoppers added a run in the top of the eighth inning off RiverDogs reliever Adam Smith to make it 8-4, and never looked back. Smith gave up the one run on one hit and two walks while also hitting a batter and striking out one. Derek Varnadore pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Charleston.
Starter turned reliever Mason Hope got the final nine outs for Greensboro without allowing a run on three hits and walked three.
Greg Bird also had another great game for the RiverDogs going 1-2 with a single, a run scored, and three walks.
BALLPARK FUN: Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, Special Assistant to the General Manager for the Yankees, was in attendance. Jackson received a standing ovation before the end of the fifth inning.
COMING UP: Game two of this four game set against Greensboro Friday night at 7:05 at The Joe. RHP Vicente Campos (1-2, 3.57 ERA) will be on the mound for Charleston and Greensboro will start RHP Ramon Del Orbe (5-6, 4.95 ERA). Fans can listen to the game live locally on ESPN Radio 910AM or online at www.riverdogs.com.