AUGUSTA, GA - Brandon Thomas collected his first three hits as a member of the Charleston RiverDogs and came up just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, but an early offensive outburst by the Augusta GreenJackets was enough as they held on to win 6-3 on Saturday night at Lake Olmstead Stadium in South Atlantic League action.
The RiverDogs are now 1-2 this season while the GreenJackets improve to 2-1 and take a lead in this season-opening series. Charleston will have a chance to even the four-game set in Sunday's series finale, which is scheduled to start at 2:00pm.
Back-to-back hits put the RiverDogs ahead in the top of the second inning. With one out, Thomas tripled and Luis Torrens followed with a single that plated Thomas and gave the RiverDogs a 1-0 edge.
Augusta replied with a rally in its half of the second to take a 4-1 lead against Charleston's Giovanny Gallegos. A bases-loaded single from Tyler Horan tied the game by scoring Ryan Tuntland. The GreenJackets scored the go-ahead run on a force out that brought in Ryder Jones. A two-run triple from Randy Ortiz added to the lead before Gallegos got into a rhythm.
Gallegos induced a groundout that closed the second inning and he faced the minimum in his last three innings. Gallegos struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth and finished his outing with seven strikeouts in five frames.
Although the RiverDogs threatened to trim Augusta's advantage in the fourth and the seventh, Charleston came up short each time. The RiverDogs had the bases loaded before an inning-ending double play finished the fourth. In the seventh, Charleston put the first two batters aboard and was unable to push a run across.
The GreenJackets scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to build a 6-1 advantage. Cristian Paulino hit into a force out that moved Horan in. Paulino then stole second base and promptly scored on a single off the bat of Oritz.
After following his triple with a single and a double, Thomas needed a home run when he batted in the eighth inning to complete the cycle. However, a groundout to first base ended Thomas' night at the plate.
The RiverDogs started a two-out rally in the ninth inning on an Abiatal Avelino double, cutting the deficit to 6-2. Avelino scored with a single and an error to put the potential tying run at the plate, but a game-ending groundout saddled Charleston with a three-run loss.
Keury Mella won his GreenJackets debut and has a 1-0 record. Gallegos, despite a strong finish to his performance, was tagged with the loss for the RiverDogs and fell to 0-1 this season.
COMING UP: The finale of this four-game series, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, features Charleston RHP Brady Lail (0-0, 0.00 ERA) and Augusta LHP Carlos Diaz (0-0, 0.00 ERA). First pitch is set for 2:00pm on Sunday. Up next, Charleston will return to The Joe for a seven-game homestand that starts on Monday, April 7. The RiverDogs host the Greenville Drive for Charleston's grand Opening Night celebration, complete with $1 hot dogs and $1 beers presented by Coors. 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 on 1250 WTMA, the new radio home for RiverDogs baseball.
Box Score: http://atmilb.com/1h1xNCD