CHARLESTON, SC - Brandon Thomas set a career high with four hits and knocked in the winning run to pace the Charleston RiverDogs to an 8-5 series-clinching victory over the Augusta GreenJackets on Monday afternoon in front of 2,078 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in South Atlantic League action. Mark Payton also hit his first professional home run in the victory.
The RiverDogs improved to 15-16 in the second half and 48-53 this season. With the loss, the GreenJackets fell to 14-18 and 48-52, respectively.
Augusta opened the scoring, taking a 2-0 advantage in the first inning. Chris Lofton led off the game with a single, stole second base, and scored on a two-out single by Tyler Horan. Rafael Rodriguez later drove in Horan with a single of his own to for a 2-0 GreenJackets lead.
Charleston answered with a run in the second before taking the lead in the third. With runners on the corners and one out in the second, Brandon Thomas had a 2-2 count. He swung and missed at the next pitch, but due to an error in the count, he remained at the plate. On a full count, Thomas hit an infield single to score Eduardo de Oleo. In the third inning, Dustin Fowler and de Oleo each drove in runs on singles that gave Charleston a 3-2 advantage.
In the fourth inning, both teams traded a run. Following back-to-back strikeouts, Gabriel Cornier drew a walk and picked up his first stolen base of the season. He scored during a single from Rando Moreno that tied the game at 3-3. During the home half of the frame, Thomas collected a one-out single and came in to score after singles by Payton and Tyler Wade.
The RiverDogs scored again in the fifth inning for a 5-3 lead. Thomas batted with runners at first and second with two outs. With a 2-2 pitch, Thomas doubled to score Reymond Nunez, but Gosuke Katoh was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
The GreenJackets rallied with two outs in the seventh to even the score at 5-5. The inning began with two straight strikeouts ahead of Ryder Jones, who singled to keep the inning alive. Tyler Ross doubled to bring in Jones and trim Augusta's deficit in half. Ross scored after a double by Horan that tied the contest.
Thomas and Payton guided the RiverDogs to a go-ahead rally in the eighth inning. Nunez led off with a single before pinch-runner John Murphy was sacrificed to second base by Katoh. Thomas singled to score Murphy and give Charleston a 6-5 lead. Payton followed with a two-run home run to right field, his first professional home run to extend the lead to 8-5. After the rally, reliever Eric Ruth pitched a perfect ninth inning that closed the win.
Giovanny Gallegos picked up the victory and improved to 3-4 for Charleston. Daniel Slania surrendered Charleston's three-run rally and dropped to 1-5 with Augusta. Ruth's save was his second of the year.
BALLPARK FUN: Monday's matinee at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park offered special deals for businesspersons and members of the service industry for the special 12:05pm start time. A Business-Man's Special for $7 upper reserved tickets and Service Industry Day, offering $5 general admission tickets, highlighted the afternoon. Coors and Magic 107.3 sponsored $1 hot dogs and $1 drafts in the Ashley View Pub, too.
COMING UP: The RiverDogs will be idle on Tuesday before starting a seven-game road trip. Charleston will play at Lexington on Wednesday at 7:05pm with RiverDogs RHP Rookie Davis (4-8, 4.66 ERA) to start against a Legends pitcher that has yet to be announced. The next RiverDogs homestand is scheduled for Thursday, July 31 through Sunday, August 3 against the Hagerstown Suns. Upcoming promotions include Gullah Heritage Night, Robert English's Professional Scouts Hall of Fame induction, Rainbows Pride Night, and one set of postgame fireworks. 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/1zX7fL1
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.