CHARLESTON, SC - Eight of the nine Charleston starters scored at least one run for the first place RiverDogs in an 11-5 win over the Greenville Drive in South Atlantic League play Thursday night at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in front of 5,067 fans.
With the win, the RiverDogs (27-17) remain in first place in the Southern Division and are now 1.5 games ahead of the second place Savannah Sand Gnats. The Drive drop to 13-33 on the season and remain in last place in the Southern Division. The loss was Greenville's 19th straight road loss.
Starting pitcher Cody Kukuk (2-6) and the rest of the Drive struggled in the top of the first inning. Following three consecutive walks, Dante Bichette, Jr. plated Jake Cave (3-4, 2 runs, 4 RBI) with a sacrifice fly to center field. Cito Culver, Peter O'Brien, and Reymond Nunez then all scored on three consecutive Drive errors. Charleston scored four runs but had no hits its first time through the order. With the bases loaded and two outs, Cave hit a 2 RBI single in his second at bat of the inning and made the score 6-0. The RiverDogs never looked back.
Kukuk was relieved during the inning by Jacob Dahlstrand who then recorded the final out of the inning. In 0.2 innings of work Kukuk allowed three earned runs on one hit while walking three batters and hitting one batter.
Vicente Campos pitched four innings as the starter for the RiverDogs before being relieved by Luis Niebla (2-0). Campos allowed three earned runs on four hits and recorded three strikeouts. The score was 9-4 when he left the game but he was not a factor in the decision. Niebla finished the game for the RiverDogs and earned his second win of the season to move to 2-0. In five innings of work, he allowed three runs on four hits and struck out seven batters.
Greenville cut the RiverDogs lead in half in the third inning. With runners on first and second, Mookie Betts hit a line drive single to right field. Jordan Weems was held up at third base but then scored when catcher O'Brien could not corral the throw. Another Charleston error on the next play allowed two more runs to score for the Drive.
Charleston added two runs to their lead in the bottom of the third. O'Brien hit a sacrifice fly to right with the bases loaded and scored Taylor Dugas (2-4). Cave then scored on a Bichette single to center. The hit extended Bichette's hitting streak to nine games, his longest of the season.
The lead was cut to 8-4 in the top of the fourth. David Chester led off the inning with a double to left-center. After moving to third on a fielders' choice, Chester scored on a groundball to first base.
The RiverDogs again answered with a run of their own. Claudio Custodio stole second after reaching on a fielders' choice. He then scored on a Dugas single to left field.
Custodio manufactured another run for Charleston in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 10-4. He led off the inning with an infield single by beating out a groundball to third base. Custodio then stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Cave sacrifice fly ball to center.
A Kelvin DeLeon (3-4, HR, 2 runs) solo home run, his third of the season, added one more run for the RiverDogs in the bottom of the seventh.
Greenville started a rally in the top of the eighth as they scored three runs and chipped away at the Charleston lead. With runners on the corners, Cody Koback doubled to right field and scored Jose Vinicio. Betts and Koback then scored on a Chester single to center.
The RiverDogs added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. After walking, Custiodio stole second and reached third on a fielders' choice. He then scored on a Cave double to right-center.