CHARLESTON, SC - The Charleston RiverDogs, highlighted by home runs from Michael O'Neill and Mikeson Oliberto, defeated the Rome Braves 8-4 to close a doubleheader after a 3-2 Rome win in the opener on Saturday night in front of 3,264 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in South Atlantic League action.
The RiverDogs are 8-8 this season while the Braves have a 6-11 record. With the doubleheader split, Charleston takes a series victory with two wins in a three-game set against Rome.
A four-run rally in the first inning put Charleston on top. Tyler Wade scored on an Aaron Judge double to open the scoring. Brandon Thomas was brought in by a Mike Ford groundout for a 2-0 advantage. After Miguel Andujar's sacrifice fly scored Judge, O'Neill lined a home run to left field to increase the lead to 4-0. O'Neill leads the RiverDogs with three home runs this year.
The Braves added a run in the third before another four-run barrage put the RiverDogs up 8-1 in the fourth. Oliberto's solo home run opened the frame, his first blast of the season. John Murphy replaced Brandon Thomas after a single and would score after a single from Ford. O'Neill drove in Judge and Ford with a standup triple. Rome cut the difference to 8-4 after a three-run fifth inning but did not get closer than that.
In the game two victory, Jordan Cote earned the relief win and is 1-0 this season. Cote relieved Rookie Davis, who had a career-high seven strikeouts but did not factor in the decision. Rome starter Frank Lafreniere dropped to 1-3 after being charged with the loss.
The RiverDogs opened game one with the first two runs. In the second inning, Brandon Thomas was hit by a pitch and would score from third base on a wild pitch. Charleston's lead grew to 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth when Kale Sumner hit a solo home run in his RiverDogs debut.
Charleston's Caleb Smith remained solid at The Joe with another shutout start at home. Smith allowed two hits in a season-high 5.1 scoreless innings pitched while striking out six, also a new personal best this year.
Rome came from behind to win the opener after a rally in the seventh and final inning. Blake Brown put the Braves on the scoreboard with a single that scored Victor Reyes. Brown tied the game at two, scoring from second base on a strikeout coupled with a wild pitch. A throwing error allowed Mikey Reynolds to score for the winning run in a 3-2 Rome triumph.
The game one winner was Rome's Yean Carlos Gil, who moved to 2-0. Philip Walby suffered the loss and is 0-1 after allowing the three-run rally to the Braves.
BALLPARK FUN: An active day at The Joe began in earnest through the 11th Annual "Run, Forrest, Run" 5K, which featured over 600 participants and home plate served as the location of the finish line. Runners with the most notable finishes were honored in a pregame awards ceremony before Saturday's doubleheader. Between games, the sky over the scenic Ashley River came to life in another spectacular fireworks display at Riley Park.
COMING UP: The RiverDogs visit the Lakewood BlueClaws at FirstEnergy Park on Monday, April 21 at 6:35pm. Charleston RHP Luis Severino (0-1, 3.24 ERA) will pitch against Lakewood RHP Mark Leiter, Jr. (2-1, 3.00 ERA) in the opener of a seven-game RiverDogs road trip. Starting on Tuesday, April 29, the RiverDogs will host a seven-game homestand at The Joe. Harris Teeter 2-for-$20 Date Night Tuesday, presented by Nash FM 96.9, offers a great deal with two tickets, two tacos, two fountain drinks, and one nacho tray for just $20 for couples that show their VIC card at the box office! 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 - Game One: http://atmilb.com/QnFtoJ
Box Score - Game Two: http://atmilb.com/1f9Qn7n