ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The Charleston RiverDogs kept themselves on the fringes of the playoff conversation as they leaned on a standout performance from their MVP candidate. Left fielder Canaan Smith went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and four RBI to help the RiverDogs avoid a sweep at the hands of the Tourists with a 9-5 victory on Sunday afternoon at McCormick Field.
Smith added clout to his tremendous season by going 3-for-3 to start the night, first driving a double to the left field corner to put Charleston (65-61, 28-28) on the board after shortstop Oswald Peraza reached on an infield single on the first pitch of the ballgame. In the second, Smith again stepped up with runners in scoring position and delivered, mashing a double halfway up the 42-foot high scoreboard in right to plate Ryan Lidge. In his third at-bat, the Texas native laced a single into right to bring in another pair, at the time extending the Holy City's lead to 8-4.
The former fourth rounder's third multi-hit game of the series rose his batting average to .313 on the season, trailing Terrin Vavra's league-leading mark by six points. The injured Tourist All-Star remains on the seven-day injured list with 14 games remaining on the schedule. Smith is seeking to become the first Charleston batting title winner since 1982 when since Cliff Pastornicky hit for a club-record .343 mark with the Royals.
After allowing four runs on five hits over the first two innings, starter Jhony Brito (W, 6-3) settled in to deliver a solid outing. The Dominican right-hander delivered five innings and allowed just two hits the rest of the way. He struck out four against two walks, marking the first time in 20 appearances this season he walked multiple batters in a single outing. The 21-year-old still holds a 69:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season.
Rockies first rounder Grant Lavigne briefly brought the Tourists (61-65, 32-24) within three runs after a leadoff shot in the sixth. The Asheville' first baseman's solo marker made it 8-5 and was promptly erased an inning later when reliever Will Tribucher loaded up the bases and walked Lidge to bring in Charleston's first run since the third.
Along with Smith, center fielder Josh Stowers also tallied three hits, including a double. Both hitters had at least one opportunity apiece to add a fourth but came up short. Charleston's lone four-hit performance on the season remains Smith's cycle on May 12 at Hickory, the first for a RiverDog hitter in 22 seasons.
The RiverDogs will trail first-place Asheville by 4.0 games before resuming play on Tuesday. Following a six-day homestand, Charleston will travel back to McCormick Field where they now own a 3-8 record after snapping a four-game losing streak at the historic venue.
With a first-inning knock, 19-year-old Peraza has now hit safely in nine straight for Charleston.
After an off-day Monday, the RiverDogs open their longest remaining home stretch of the season with a six-day stay at The Joe. Charleston will first welcome in the West Virginia Power for their second visit to Riley Park this year to open a three-game set Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. Left-hander Josh Maciejewski (1-1, 2.25) will make his third start with the Holy City after two outings with Triple-A Scranton, where the North Carolina native impressed, allowing three runs over 12.0 innings with the Railriders. Righty Evan Johnson (0-4, 4.22) will stand in opposition for the Mariners affiliate. It will be the Creighton product's seventh appearance in the South Atlantic League this year; he has allowed multiple runs in all but two and has failed to reach the fifth inning in five of them. Charleston swept their previous three-game series against the Power back on May 14-16 at The Joe.
Catch the game on WTMA 1250 AM in the tri-county area and online streaming on the TuneIn Radio app. Fans can "Make Fun" with the RiverDogs all season long down at The Joe. Single-game tickets, including options to the Riley Park Club, are available at riverdogs.com/tickets or by contacting the RiverDogs front office at 843-577-3647 (DOGS). A full schedule and list of game times for the 2019 season are available at riverdogs.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.