CHARLESTON, SC - Grant Duff pitched seven strong innings and three RiverDogs batters collected two hits as Charleston outclassed Savannah, 4-2, in South Atlantic League action Sunday afternoon in front of 3,944 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.
The RiverDogs, playing with co-owner Bill Murray in attendance, extend their winning streak to a season-high-matching five games and are 11-7 overall. The Sand Gnats drop their fourth consecutive game and are now 4-13 on the season.
Duff (2-2) allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits in the longest outing for a Charleston hurler this season. Nick Peterson pitched a scoreless eighth inning hit and closer Jonathan Hovis earned his third save of the year by striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth.
Offensively, Charleston was led by Chris Malec, Brian Baisley and Jose Gil, who each recorded a pair of base knocks. Leadoff hitter Mitch Hilligoss kick-started a first-inning two-run rally with a ground ball single, extending his hitting streak to a modest five games.
The RiverDogs scored twice in that opening inning, improving to 10-2 on the season when scoring first. With the bases loaded and none out, Baisley singled home one run against Savannah starter Tobi Stoner (0-3) and was followed by Josue Calzado's sacrifice fly to center field.
Savannah knotted the contest at 2-2 in the top of the fifth when Josh Thole opened the frame with a double to right field and one out later scored on Duff's wild pitch. Juan Lagares then singled and advanced to third on a fielding error by first baseman Malec, then promptly scored on Greg Veloz's sacrifice fly to right.
But Charleston came right back in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead, 3-2. With one out, Malec doubled to right to chase Stoner from the game. Seth Fortenberry then greeted new Sand Gnats pitcher, Jonathan Castillo, with a run-scoring double to right to put the hosts ahead for good.
The RiverDogs plated another run in the sixth, increasing their lead to 4-2. Eduardo Nunez led off and was hit by a Castillo pitch, and then Brian Aragon drew a walk. After Gil lined to third, Chris Kunda reached on a fielder's choice with Nunez advancing home on an overthrow by Legares, the Savannah shortstop. It marked the Sand Gnats' league-leading 35th error in their first 17 games.
Stoner lasted 4.1 innings, allowed three runs on five hits, walked two and struck out four. On the afternoon Charleston had nine knocks while Savannah was limited to seven.
The third game of this four-game series is set for Monday at 7:05 p.m. with RiverDogs manager Torre Tyson calling on lefty Mike Dunn (2-0, 1.80 ERA) to take the hill. Savannah manager Tim Teufel, a former Clemson standout, counters with righty Tim Stronach (1-2, 7.71 ERA).