CHARLESTON, SC - Ericson Leonora broke a 1-1 tie with a two out, RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to send the Charleston RiverDogs to a 2-1 win over the Lexington Legends in the series opener on Tuesday night at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in front of 4,845 fans.
With the win, the RiverDogs advance to 25-26 in the second half and 64-55 overall. Lexington falls to 30-21 in the second half and 63-56 overall with the loss.
In a matchup of two of the best pitching teams in the South Atlantic League, this one did not disappoint. Both starting pitchers were dominant early with Charleston cracking through first in the bottom of the third. After a leadoff bunt single by Daniel Aldrich, leadoff man Jake Cave hit a double down the right field line to score Aldrich and put the Dogs up 1-0.
The game stayed that way until the top of the sixth inning when Lexington played some small ball and tied the game. The speedy Terrance Gore dropped down a one out bunt single, took second on a throwing error, went to third on another bunt single by Raul Mondesi, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mark Threlkeld to tie the game at 1. Gore and Mondesi each finished the game 2-4.
Hoping to avoid extra innings, the RiverDogs untied the game in the bottom of the eighth. Ty Afenir reached on an infield single to lead off the inning. After being sacrificed to second base by Jake Cave, Afenir then scored on a clutch two out, RBI single by Ericson Leonora (2-4, RBI) to put Charleston on top 2-1. They would not look back.
Brett Gerritse got the start for the Dogs and was very effective. He allowed just one unearned run in six solid innings on only four hits, walked nobody, and struck out eight. Derek Varnadore then threw three shutout inning in relief on just two hits, one walk, and one strikeout. He earned his first win of the year to improve to 1-5.
Charleston managed just one run on four hits and struckout five times against Lexington's starter Miguel Almonte. In two innings of relief Chas Byrne gave up two hits, one run, and struckout four to earn the loss and fall to 3-2.
The win was the second straight one run win for the RiverDogs following their 1-0 win on Sunday over Rome.