SAVANNAH, GA - Jaron Long pitched 6.2 shutout innings for the Charleston RiverDogs on Tuesday night, but the Savannah Sand Gnats rallied in the eighth to claim a 2-1 comeback win at Historic Grayson Stadium in South Atlantic League action. Long has pitched 17.2 scoreless innings over three starts but has no wins in those appearances.
Charleston splits this four-game series against first-place Savannah despite winning the first two games. The RiverDogs drop to 23-21 with the Sand Gnats bouncing up to 30-14.
The evening began with a leadoff single by Tyler Wade, who later advanced to second base on a one-out single from Aaron Judge. With two outs, Miguel Andujar singled to score Wade for a 1-0 Charleston lead. On the play, Andujar tried to stretch his hit to a double and was put out at second base.
Both starting pitchers escaped bases-loaded jams as the game continued. Charleston's Jaron Long had the bases full after a two-out walk before he induced an inning-ending force out that kept the RiverDogs in front. In the top of the third, Savannah's Ricky Knapp allowed the first three hitters to reach, but he struck out the next three batters to keep the Sand Gnats within a run.
Long and Knapp each recorded quality starts on Tuesday. Long struck out seven in 6.2 scoreless innings, working hard through a 98-pitch performance. Knapp had five strikeouts for the Sand Gnats and even retired nine consecutive RiverDogs during his six frames.
Rony Bautista inherited the potential tying run at first base when he relieved Long in the seventh. Dominic Smith moved into scoring position when Champ Stuart's full-count single sent Smith to second base. Bautista responded with a strikeout against Colton Plaia to end the scoring threat.
Savannah broke through in the eighth inning to take a 2-1 lead. Bautista drew a pair of groundouts before Jeff McNeil reached on a single. Cesar Vargas relieved Bautista and put two early strikes on L.J. Mazzilli. After fouling away three straight pitches, Mazzilli doubled to score McNeil and made it to third base on an error. Smith's go-ahead single plated Mazzilli as Savannah came back to snatch a victory over Charleston.
Dario Alvarez pitched two scoreless innings and improved to 3-0 with credit for the victory. Vargas fell to 0-2 with the loss. Robert Coles pitched a perfect final frame and earned his ninth save in as many attempts for the Sand Gnats.
COMING UP: No South Atlantic League games are scheduled for Wednesday, but Charleston will start a four-game road series at Hickory on Thursday. First pitch is set for 7pm with RiverDogs LHP Caleb Smith (3-3, 0.70 ERA) opposing Crawdads LHP Frank Lopez (3-2, 2.09 ERA). The RiverDogs follow this road stretch with an eight-game homestand at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. "Re-Opening Night" is on tap for a May 27 doubleheader with the Greenville Drive at 6:05pm while "Bark for Your Brew" on June 1 at 3pm precedes the homestand finale against the Asheville Tourists at 5:05pm. 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/1j67doa
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.