Dustin Fowler blasted a grand slam to right field and drove in five runs in a 9-1 Charleston RiverDogs victory over the Rome Braves on Saturday evening in front of 4,628 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in South Atlantic League action. Jacob Lindgren, the top New York Yankees draft pick this year, received credit for his first professional victory.
The RiverDogs snapped an eight-game losing streak and improved to 4-13 in the second half and 37-50 overall. The Braves are now 4-13 and 28-59, respectively. This three-game series is also tied with one win for each side.
In the first inning, Rome went ahead 1-0. The frame had an inauspicious start as leadoff hitter Keith Curcio left with an injury after he fouled a pitch off himself. Connor Oliver, his replacement, drew a walk and scored from second on a one-out double from Ross Wilson.
Charleston quickly tied the game at 1-1 due to a strange play in the bottom of the first. As Tyler Wade picked up a double, Rome shortstop Johan Camargo allowed the throw from right field to bounce by him. Wade moved to third base and scored when a throw by third baseman Carlos Franco went into Rome’s dugout.
For the next four and a half innings, both teams had great pitching performances. Rome’s Tyler Brosius retired 13 consecutive batters through the end of the fifth inning. Charleston starter Rookie Davis finished five innings pitched with only one run and three hits allowed. Lindgren had a perfect sixth inning in relief, closing with a strikeout as the game remained tied.
Fowler and Eduardo de Oleo pushed the RiverDogs in front 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Michael O’Neill was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and stole second while Fowler was at the plate. On the next pitch, Fowler tripled in O’Neill for the go-ahead run. After Rome reliever Andy Otero fired back-to-back walks, de Oleo brought in two runs with a single.
During the seventh, Fowler and de Oleo struck again to increase the lead to 9-1. Charleston loaded the bases against Otero, prompting a pitching change. Michael Swanner faced Fowler, who smashed a grand slam to right field. Miguel Andujar followed with a double and stayed in scoring position after two groundouts before de Oleo singled to send him home.
Fowler’s grand slam was his second of the season and his seventh home run overall. He also set a new career high with five runs batted in. On the mound, Angel Rincon closed the game with three scoreless innings and a save. It was Rincon’s first save since August 5, 2010 when he was a member of the Dominican Summer League Yankees 1.
Lindgren is 1-0 with the victory while Brosius drops to 2-6 as the losing pitcher. Rincon earned his first RiverDogs save.
BALLPARK FUN: The first 1,000 fans through the gates on Saturday received Harold Ramis bobbleheads on Ghostbusters Night, which also included appearances from the Ghostbusters and their car Ecto-1. The ceremonial first pitches were preceded by a special delivery from South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers, who rolled a watermelon to home plate as part of the Watermelon Day festivities.
COMING UP: The finale of this three-game series will be on Sunday at 5:05pm. Charleston LHP Chaz Hebert (0-2, 5.49 ERA) will face Rome LHP Matt Marksberry (0-5, 4.44 ERA). It is going to be another CCPRC and Crews Subaru Kids Club Sunday and Seersucker Sunday. The Fur Circus will perform during the contest while celebrity “Smokin’ Chef” Justin Moore will serve a Classic Carolina pulled pork sandwich from the RiverDogs’ new meat smoker along with special BBQ sauces. 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.