CHARLESTON, S.C. - The RiverDogs' offense came alive in the sixth inning to wrap up the first half on a high note, claiming a 5-1 victory to take the series over the Columbia Fireflies on Sunday afternoon at Joe Riley Park in front of another sellout crowd of 6,557 fans.
Blake Rutherford came up big with a game-tying double and Estevan Florial plated the game-winner with a single, both in the crucial sixth inning. The RiverDogs bullpen blanked Columbia for four innings to lower their ERA to 1.81.
Charleston (34-36) finishes out the first half two games below .500 heading into the All-Star break before starting the second half on the road in Greenville with a clean slate on Thursday.
Needing a win to ensure the first half title and a playoff spot, Columbia (40-28) jumped out to an early advantage, collecting three straight hits in the first before Dash Winningham plated his 46th of the year with a sacrifice fly. Charleston got to Fireflies starter Gabriel Llanes (4-4, 2.93) in the sixth. Second baseman Hoy Jun Park and shortstop Diego Castillo hit back to back singles to start the sixth before Rutherford and Florial plated the tying and go-ahead runs.
The bats came alive again in the seventh. First baseman Brandon Wagner and designated hitter Ben Ruta singled and came into score from a two RBI double from catcher Donny Sands to take a 4-1 lead.
The RiverDogs added insurance in the eighth on back-to-back doubles from third baseman Angel Aguilar and right fielder Isiah Gilliam, making it 5-1.
Matt Frawley (4-1, 1.45) got the win and came in for relief of Green to work two innings, allowing one hit and four strikeouts. Recent All-Star addition Trevor Lane took over in the eight eighth and struck out three out of the four batters he faced before Hobie Harris closed out the ninth, stranding the bases loaded.
RiverDogs starter Nick Green surrendered just one run in the first inning then settled in to toss five innings while striking out four, walking just one, and not factoring into the decision. Llanes suffered his fourth loss of the season as he turned in six innings, allowing six hits and two runs while striking out five.
It was the finale of Larry Doby Weekend presented by MUSC Health as the RiverDogs wrapped up the first-half against Columbia. Per tradition, the RiverDogs wore the uniforms of the Newark Eagles, the Negro League club where Doby spent five seasons. The Fireflies wore the Negro League uniforms of the Homestead Grays. The club also saluted dads on Father's Day at The Joe.
RiverDogs will feature six players in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, June 20 at 7:05 pm. Estevan Florial will compete in the Home Run Derby on June 19 at 7:30pm. Charleston will be back in action on Thursday night against the Greenville Drive. It will be right hander Freicer Perez to face a TBD starter for the Drive. The game can be tuned into on WTMA 1250 AM and streaming onlinve via the RiverDogs' TuneIn radio station.
RiverDogs tickets, including options for the all-new Riley Park Club, are now available and can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. Those that can't make it to the park can follow every pitch of the RiverDogs season on WTMA 1250 AM in the tri-county area or by streaming online at riverdogs.com and the TuneIn Radio App by searching "RiverDogs."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.