SAVANNAH, GA - Charleston RiverDogs starter Rafael De Paula was impressive again as he tossed six shutout frames, and Charleston topped the Savannah Sand Gnats 2-0 Tuesday evening in a pitchers duel at Historic Grayson Stadium in South Atlantic League action.
With the victory, the RiverDogs improve to 25-17 overall and jump back in to first place in the Southern Division standings. With the loss, Savannah falls to 25-18 and falls back into second place, a half game behind Charleston in the Southern Division standings.
De Paula (5-2) has now won his past five outings after going six innings with only three hits allowed and five strikeouts. De Paula continues to lead the SAL with 74 strikeouts on the season. He was relieved in the seventh by Derek Varnadore, who allowed a walk then got Cole Frenzel to ground into a double play followed by a flyout. Varnadore was relieved in the eighth by Alex Smith who recorded the final six outs for the RiverDogs. Smith recorded his third save of the year while allowing just one hit.
The RiverDogs offense got on the board quickly Tuesday evening. Leadoff hitter Taylor Dugas started the game with a single. He then stole second base while Cito Culver was at the plate. Dugas advanced to third on a single by Culver and would come around to score on a groundball double play hit into by Greg Bird.
Charleston's other run came in the fourth inning. With one out, catcher Peter O'Brien (2-for-4) tripled to extend his hitting streak to a team and season best ten games. Following O'Brien's triple, Dante Bichette Jr., tripled and plated O'Brien giving the RiverDogs a 2-0 advantage. Bichette Jr. (1-3) extended his hitting streak to a season best seven games with his triple as well.
Savannah starter Steven Matz (2-2) was equally impressive on the mound for the Sand Gnats. Matz's final line was six innings as he allowed two runs on five hits and struckout a season best nine batters. Matz was relieved by Julian Hilario and Hunter Carnavale who tossed a combined three innings of shutout ball and allowed just one hit and one walk.
Savannah's offense struggled all night against the strong RiverDogs pitching performance. Leading the way for the Sand Gnats was Jeff Reynolds who went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Reynolds was the lone batter to record multiple hits for Savannah on Tuesday night.