Charleston RiverDogs reliever Chad Taylor was nearly perfect in a career-high 3.1 innings pitched, helping the RiverDogs to a 6-4 victory against the Lexington Legends on Wednesday evening at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in South Atlantic League action. Brandon Thomas blasted a late home run, his third of the season, which would solidify Charleston’s lead.
Charleston evened its second half record at 16-16 while moving to 49-53 overall. Lexington dropped to 11-21 and 40-62, respectively. The RiverDogs also guaranteed a win in the season series with Wednesday’s victory, taking a 6-2 advantage with only two games remaining.
Mark Payton gave the RiverDogs a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Payton drew a leadoff walk to begin the game. While Tyler Wade was at the plate, he stole second base and reached third on a wild pitch by Alec Mills. Wade grounded out to score Payton and put Charleston in front.
RiverDogs starter Rookie Davis cruised through his first five innings. Davis and the defense collected 11 straight outs while retiring 10 consecutive batters, starting with an inning-ending double play in the first inning and quickly retiring the side in the next three frames.
Charleston increased its lead to 3-0 during the top of the sixth. With runners on the corners and two outs against reliever Andrew Edwards, Reymond Nunez lifted a two-run double that scored Miguel Andujar and Eduardo de Oleo.
In the bottom of the sixth, Lexington rallied to tie the game. Alexis Rivera led off with a walk. Following a fly out, Humberto Arteaga doubled to put runners in scoring position. Frank Schwindel tagged Davis with his 15th home run of the season, evening the score at 3-3. Taylor replaced Davis and ended the inning by fielding a groundout and picking up a strikeout.
The RiverDogs quickly reclaimed lead at 4-3 in the seventh inning. Payton singled to begin the inning but was put out at second base when Wade reached on a force out. Michael O’Neill followed with a double which brought in Wade from first base for the go-ahead run.
Thomas chimed in with a big two-run blast during the eighth. Legends reliever Tim Hill had a runner at first base, two outs, and a 2-2 count on Thomas, who drove a home run that increased the RiverDogs lead to 6-3.
Taylor remained dominant as he protected Charleston’s lead. He struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh, giving Taylor four consecutive strikeouts. His only baserunners allowed came on a hit batsman in the eighth and a triple in the ninth.
Lexington attempted a comeback in the ninth inning against Charleston. Eric Ruth relieved Taylor with two outs in the ninth inning and Elier Hernandez at third base due to a triple. Dex Kjerstad came through with a single to score Hernandez, but Ruth followed with a strikeout against Fred Ford to end the game.
With his second consecutive victory, Taylor improved to 2-1 with Charleston after allowing just one earned run in 3.1 innings pitched. Edwards was charged with the loss for Lexington and slid to 3-5. Ruth took his third save of the season.
COMING UP: Game two of this three-game series starts at 7:05pm on Thursday as RiverDogs RHP Andy Beresford (1-0, 4.60 ERA) squares off against Legends RHP Jake Junis (8-4, 3.70 ERA). The next RiverDogs homestand is scheduled for Thursday, July 31 through Sunday, August 3 against the Hagerstown Suns. Upcoming promotions include Gullah Heritage Night, Robert English’s Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame enshrinement, Rainbows Day, and a postgame fireworks display. Tickets may be purchased at the Riley Park Box Office, (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or on-line at www.riverdogs.com. If fans cannot make it to the ballpark, they are encouraged to tune in to all the action this year both home and away worldwide on www.riverdogs.com and locally on 1250 WTMA, the new radio home for RiverDogs baseball.