Brandon Thomas' two-run home run in the sixth inning was a critical blast in a 5-4 Charleston RiverDogs victory against the Rome Braves on Sunday in front of 4,002 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in South Atlantic League action. Charleston split a four-game series with Rome and also went 5-2 over a seven-game homestand.
The RiverDogs improved to 30-27 in the second half and 63-64 overall. The Braves were eliminated from second-half postseason contention and fell to 25-32 and 49-78, respectively.
Abiatal Avelino scored a run without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the first inning. Avelino was hit by a pitch to open the frame. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch while Tyler Wade was batting and reached third on a Mike Ford groundout. A passed ball allowed Avelino to score and put Charleston in front, 1-0.
Back-to-back doubles in the third inning boosted Charleston's lead to 2-0. Following two strikeouts from Rome's Matt Marksberry, Avelino doubled and scored on a double by Wade.
Both teams scored in the fourth, moving the RiverDogs to a 3-1 advantage. Ross Wilson singled with one out in the top of the inning. Three batters later, he scored on a two-out single from Carlos Franco. Thomas opened the bottom of the frame with a walk and ended up at third base on a stolen base and an error. Thomas crossed home plate after a passed ball.
Rome cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth inning. Alejandro Piloto reached on an error and was pushed to third base during a Codey McElroy double. Luis Niebla picked up a strikeout before he was replaced by Angel Rincon, who allowed a single to Connor Lien that scored Piloto.
Thomas cushioned the RiverDogs lead with a two-run blast that gave Charleston a 5-3 lead in the sixth. Yeicok Calderon walked ahead of Thomas, who drilled a home run to right field. It was Thomas' fifth home run of the season and his second during this homestand.
Home runs in the seventh and eighth innings carried the Braves back to within a run. Lien launched a one-out solo home run in the seventh, his fifth round tripper of the season. Sal Giardina provided his second professional home run during the eighth inning, cutting the RiverDogs lead to 5-4.
Rome threatened to tie the contest in the top of the ninth, but Charleston held on for a 5-4 win. Carlos Sanchez drew a one-out walk, advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and tagged up on a fly out from Lien to move to third base. However, Eduardo de Oleo smothered a pitch in the dirt to Wilson before he was struck out by Stefan Lopez to end the game.
Rincon earned the victory and moved his record to 5-3. Marksberry suffered the loss and fell to 5-9. Lopez remained perfect in save opportunities with his fifth save in five attempts for Charleston.
BALLPARK FUN: The RiverDogs followed their victory by signing autographs for fans on the final CCPRC and Crews Subaru Kids Club Sunday from Y102.5. The RiverDogs also wore their snazzy seersucker uniforms for the last time on another Seersucker Sunday. Dancin' with the ‘Dogs featured in-game dance routines by the Magnolia Dance Academy. Promotions Intern Ashley McCallen received a special going-away present during her final game – a pie in the face for the Desano Pizza Bakery Pie of the Game.
COMING UP: Charleston will be idle on Monday before starting a six-game road trip at the Greenville Drive on Tuesday at 7:05pm. RiverDogs RHP Rookie Davis is scheduled to start the road trip opener. The Drive has not announced its starting pitcher for that game. The last RiverDogs homestand follows this road trip as Charleston will host Greenville from Tuesday, August 26 through Thursday, August 28. The homestand finale features a special start time of 6:35pm as well as postgame fireworks. 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.