Hagerstown Suns right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito and Charleston RiverDogs left-handed pitcher Chaz Hebert dominated a pitcher’s duel that ended in a 1-0 Suns victory in a three-hit shutout on Thursday evening in front of 4,304 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in South Atlantic League action.
The RiverDogs slipped to 20-19 in the second half and 53-56 for the season. The Suns improved to 26-14 and 70-40, respectively. Giolito tossed six shutout innings while Hebert yielded an unearned run in a career-high seven innings pitched.
Giolito, the top-ranked Washington Nationals prospect according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, andMLB.com, settled in after a RiverDogs scoring threat in the second inning. Following a one-out walk by Eduardo de Oleo and a single from Gosuke Katoh, the Suns escaped the inning with a double play. Including the twin killing, Giolito retired the final 13 batters that he faced in a quality start.
Hebert opened the game with perfect pitching through the first 3.2 innings of his quality start. He picked up three strikeouts in that early stretch and received strong defense behind him. The best fielding play was a diving catch by third baseman Miguel Andujar, who caught a line drive from Wilman Rodriguez that was barely off the infield dirt to close the third inning.
Following Hebert’s perfect start, Hagerstown scored an unearned run in the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead. Difo reached on a two-out single that was coupled with an error, ending up at second base on the play. Former Clemson Tiger Spencer Kieboom lifted a bloop single into left-center field that scored Difo for the game’s only run.
The game continued uninterrupted with scoreless action until the contest entered a rain delay in the middle of the ninth inning. Following a 23-minute delay, Charleston batted in the last of the ninth and was unable to score as Wander Suero struck out the side. Suero finished with three scoreless innings of relief, including six strikeouts, while RiverDogs reliever Chad Taylor tossed a pair of shutout frames behind Hebert.
Giolito picked up the victory to climb to 7-2, carrying a streak of 12.0 consecutive shutout innings. Hebert suffered a tough-luck loss to fall to 1-3. Hebert has only allowed one earned run in his past 31.2 innings pitched. Suero earned his third save of the season.
BALLPARK FUN: Captain Marvin L. Jones, Commanding Officer of Naval Health Clinic Charleston, tossed a great strike during his ceremonial first pitch. The color guard was also provided by Naval Health Clinic Charleston. Justin Rodgers, one of 4,304 fans in attendance on Thursday, was pied in the face as the first winner of the DeSano Pizza Bakery Pie of the Game.
COMING UP: Game two of this four-game series is set for 7:05pm on Friday. Charleston RHP Gabe Encinas (0-1, 9.90 ERA) will pitch against Hagerstown RHP Wirkin Estevez (0-0, 6.55 ERA). ISHPI Red Shirt Friday from 103.5 WEZL features postgame postgame fireworks after the contest. Before the contest, Rob English will be officially inducted into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame. Plus, Gullah Heritage Night includes an official proclamation declaring this week “Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week.” 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.