CHARLESTON, SC - Peter O'Brien and Jake Cave led the Charleston RiverDogs offense in a 6-3 win over the Savannah Sand Gnats in South Atlantic League play Wednesday night at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in front of 3,233 fans.
The RiverDogs (21-15) swept the series and now move into sole possession of second place in the Southern Division. The loss drops the Sand Gnats (21-16) to fourth place in the Southern Division. Charleston is now just one game behind the first place Augusta GreenJackets.
The RiverDogs were able to get on the board early against Savannah's starting pitcher Steven Matz. Jake Cave (4-5) led off the bottom of the first inning with a single to left field and Cito Culver reached base on a throwing error. O'Brien (1-2, HR, 3R, 3 RBI, 2 walks) continued to swing a hot bat as he extended his hitting streak to six games. With runners on first and second in the first inning, O'Brien hit his fifth homer of the season and made the score 3-0. Over the three-game series against the Sand Gnats, O'Brien hit two home runs, batted .667, scored seven runs, and drove in six.
Charleston picked up another run in the bottom of the third. O'Brien, who reached on a walk, scored his second run of the game on a Yeicok Calderon double to left field.
RiverDogs starting pitcher Cesar Vargas did not allow a run until the fourth inning. Cole Frenzel led off the frame with a walk and reached third on a double by Greg Pron. Frenzel then scored the first Savannah run on a wild pitch. Vargas was relieved by Brett Gerritse (4-2). With a runner on third and two outs, Yucary De La Cruz grounded out to third base to end the threat.
In 3.1 innings, Vargas allowed one run on four hits but did not factor in the decision.
Julian Hilario entered the game in relief in the fifth inning for Savannah. Matz pitched 4.1 innings, allowed five runs (four earned), gave up seven hits, walked three batters, and recorded five strikeouts.
The RiverDogs extended their lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the fifth. After reaching on a walk, O'Brien scored for the third time on the night on a Dante Bichette, Jr. (2-3, RBI) double.
Gerritse, who entered the game in the fourth inning, was relieved by Derek Varnadore in the seventh. Gerritse picked up his fourth win of the season as he allowed no runs, no hits, and struck out three batters in 2.2 perfect innings of work.
Reymond Nunez added an insurance run for the RiverDogs in the bottom of the eighth inning with a mammoth solo homer over the left field wall that made the score 6-1. The home run was Nunez's fifth of the season and fourth in the last five games.
Varnadore closed the door on Savannah. He allowed two runs in the ninth but eventually retired the side to pick up his first save of the season. In three innings of work, he allowed two runs on four hits and struck out two batters.