Behind five solid innings from Brady Lail, the Charleston RiverDogs led from wire to wire in a 4-1 victory over the Savannah Sand Gnats on Saturday evening at Historic Grayson Stadium in South Atlantic League action. Gosuke Katoh also doubled in the contest for a team-best and career-high 14-game hit streak.
Charleston improved to 9-14 in the second half and 42-51 overall. Savannah slides back to 16-7 and 60-29, respectively. This series is tied at 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.
The RiverDogs scored two runs in the first inning to lead the game from start to finish. Tyler Wade reached on a one-out single and stole second base during a strikeout. Mike Ford’s double to right field scored Wade and put Charleston on the scoreboard. Ford scored on a Miguel Andujar single that was coupled with an error.
Another run in the third inning stretched Charleston’s lead to 3-0. Dustin Fowler led off with a double, moving to third base during a fly out from Mike Ford. With Savannah’s infield in, Miguel Andujar grounded into an error that allowed Fowler to score.
Savannah answered with its own run, cutting the deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the third. Colton Plaia hit a leadoff single but was forced out at second base when Yeixon Ruiz grounded into a force out. Ruiz reached second on a wild pitch and advanced to third during a Patrick Biondi groundout. Stuart singled and drove in Ruiz to break up Charleston’s bid for a shutout.
In the top of the fourth, after Katoh doubled to lead off the frame, he moved to third on a groundout by John Murphy. After a walk to Michael O’Neill and a pitch that hit Wade, Ford drew a bases-loaded walk that brought in Katoh to put the RiverDogs up 4-1.
The Sand Gnats threatened in the sixth inning against Charleston reliever Chaz Hebert. Three walks loaded the bases with only one out, but Hebert got Plaia to pop out to second and then struck out Ruiz swinging to strand the bases loaded and keep the score 4-1.
Both bullpens dominated, and no one reached third base for either team after Savannah’s threat in the bottom of the sixth. Charleston pieced together maybe the most promising inning in the top of the ninth when a two-out single by Ford and a walk for Andujar put two men aboard for the RiverDogs, but Sand Gnats reliever Hunter Carnevale fanned Mark Payton to send it to the bottom of the ninth.
Jacob Lindgren pitched the final inning for Charleston and struck out four batters to earn his first professional save. After a two-out strike three swinging wild pitch allowed Dominic Smith to reach and extend the game, Lindgren fanned Matt Oberste on four pitches to end the game.
Lail’s record went up to 8-4 with the victory, his first since a triumph at the Hickory Crawdads on May 23. Savannah’s Robert Gsellman was charged with the loss to fall to 7-4. Lindgren’s save was the first in his professional career.
COMING UP: The rubber game of this rain-shortened three-game series is set for 2:05 pm on Sunday afternoon. Charleston LHP Caleb Smith (4-7, 3.82 ERA) will face Savannah RHP John Gant (9-4, 2.64 ERA). The RiverDogs will be back at home on Tuesday, July 15 to start a seven-game homestand, HOPE Week 2014, and the annual Youth Baseball Camp, presented by the Kickin’ Chicken. 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.