The Greenville Drive won both games of a doublehheader against the Charleston RiverDogs thanks to some stellar pitching on Monday night in South Atlantic League play at Flour Field at the West End.
With the losses, the RiverDogs drop to 35-25 on the season and fall to second place in the SAL Southern Division standings behind the Savannah Sand Gnats. The wins move the Drive to 21-41 on the season and they remain in last place in the Southern Division.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the RiverDogs and Drive resumed a game that was suspended on June 5th when Greenville visited Charleston. Greenville was leading in the top of the third inning when rain caused the game to be suspended.
Last Wednesday in Charleston, the Drive offense scored in the top of the first inning when Mookie Betts (3-5) led off the game with a double to left field and then made the score 1-0 as he scored on a Cody Koback (2-3) double to center.
Monday, Greenville added one run to its lead in the fourth inning. After he singled to left field and advanced to third on an Aneury Tavarez double, Mario Martinez (2-4, HR) scored on a Boss Moanaroa sacrifice fly to left.
In the fifth inning, Betts doubled for the second time in the game on what was a strange play. He legged out an infield single after Cito Culver made an excellent play but failed to get the throw to first in time to beat Betts. Betts, aware that no one was covering second base, stretched his single into what was scored as a rare infield double.
Greenville pitcher Justin Haley (3-6) had only allowed two hits prior to the sixth inning when Charleston tied the game. Following a Greg Bird (2-4) double, Peter O'Brien (2-3, HR) smashed his team leading tenth home run over the left center field wall.
The 2-2 tie was broken by the Drive in the seventh inning. Charleston was one out away from ending the inning after turning a double play that cleared the bases but the Drive then rallied as four consecutive batters reached base with two outs. Cody Koback (2-3) extended the inning with a single and moved to third on an Alex Hassan double. With Koback and Hassan both in scoring position, David Chester (1-4, 3 RBI) hit a two RBI double to left field. Luis Niebla then struck out Tavarez to halt the Greenville lead at 4-2.
The RiverDogs answered in their half of the seventh inning. On just the fifth Charleston hit, Jose Rosario took Haley deep to left center field for his first home run of the season. Haley's night was over after Greg Bird grounded out to end the inning. In seven combined innings of work (two last Wednesday and five Monday) Haley allowed three runs on five hits, walked four batters, and recorded seven strikeouts as he picked up his third win of the season.
Greenville added important insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Betts began the inning with a single and later scored on a David Chester sacrifice fly to right field. With Hassan on first, Martinez then hit his second home run of the year over the center field wall to give the Drive a 7-3 lead and cement their victory.
Jeffrey Wendelken, who entered the game for the Drive in the eighth inning for a six out save opportunity, shut the door on the RiverDogs in game one of the night. The save was his fourth of the season.
With five more games to play in the next three days, Charleston relied upon the arm of Luis Niebla for the remainder of the entire first game, rather than dipping into the bullpen. Niebla pitched the entire 6.1 innings for the RiverDogs. He allowed six runs on 10 hits, walked one batter, and struck out three batters.
The 1-5 hitters for the Drive combined for 11 hits and six RBI in the first game over the two day span.
A seven inning game was then played in conclusion of the night's double header. Two pitchers combined for the Drive to shut down the RiverDogs offense.
Greenville's offense stayed hot as they got on the board in the bottom of the second inning. Following doubles by Chester (2-3) and Martinez, then a Drew Turocy walk, Chester scored the game's first run on a fielder's choice off the bat of Jayson Hernandez.
The Drive did not manage to score any more runs against the strong Charleston pitching of Brett Gerritse (5-4) and Phil Wetherell. Gerritse pitched four innings, allowed one run on four hits, and struck out five batters as he picked up the loss, while Wetherell allowed no runs on two hits and recorded two strikeouts in two innings of work.
The RiverDogs threatened in the top of the fifth. Culver came to the plate with the bases loaded following a Jose Rosario single and walks by Jackson Valera and Taylor Dugas. However, Greenville starting pitcher Cody Kukuk (3-6) struck out Culver to end the inning and keep Charleston off the board.
Gerardo Olivares finished the game on the mound for the Drive and picked up his first save of the season. In two innings of work he allowed no runs, two hits, and struck out one batter.
Kukuk, who struck out eight batters in just three innings of work in his last outing against the RiverDogs, was equally as impressive Monday. He went five innings, allowed no runs on two hits and recorded nine strikeouts as he earned his third victory of the season.
The third and fourth games of this five-game series against the Greenville Drive is scheduled for 4:05pm Tuesday at Flour Field at the West End. In game one, Charleston sends RHP Cesar Vargas (2-2, 3.15 ERA) to the mound as Greenville counters with RHP Sergio Gomez(NR) who will be making his first appearance with the Drive this season. In game two, Charleston will start LHP Daniel Camarena (0-3, 7.17 ERA) and the Drive will send fellow LHP Francisco Taveras (0-3, 5.67 ERA) to the bump.