Greg Bird led the offensive charge for the Charleston RiverDogs as he finished 4-5 with three homers and single and knocked in all seven runs for Charleston en route to a 7-5 RiverDogs victory on Friday evening at NewBridge Bank Park in South Atlantic League action.
With the win, the RiverDogs improve to 14-11 in the second half and 53-40 overall. With the loss, the Grasshoppers drop to 13-14 in the second half and 46-50 overall.
Greg Bird got his night started early with a two out solo blast to give Charleston a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Greensboro responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the second inning with two outs. Following a two out double by Blake Barber, Cody Keefer stepped to the plate and drove Barber in on an RBI single to tie the game at one.
The very next half-inning, the Charleston bats responded. With one out, Cito Culver singled with Greg Bird coming to the plate. Bird would then get a hold of one over the left field wall for his second homer of the night to give the RiverDogs a 3-1 advantage.
Greg Bird attacked again in the top of the fourth inning. Following a pair of singles by Jake Cave and Cito Culver, Bird smashed a monster home run to right center to give Charleston a 6-1 cushion.
The final at-bat for Bird saw the designated hitter drive a single to left to score Jake Cave for the seventh run of the game. Bird was thrown out at second to end the top of the eighth trying to stretch his single into a double.
Bird finished his night 4-for-5 with three homers, a single and seven RBI's. The three homers and seven RBI's are both career highs for Bird and season highs for a RiverDog.
Cito Culver and Danny Oh also chipped in with big nights. Culver went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a stolen base, while Danny Oh finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, a single and a stolen base.
Greensboro got on the board once more in the bottom of the fifth inning. With two outs, Michael Vaughn doubled to left field and due to a misplay by left fielder Kelvin De Leon was able to come around and score on the error. Juancito Martinez then drew a walk and stole a base following Vaughn's at-bat. Anthony Gomez singled in Martinez for the second run of the game for the Grasshoppers.
In a wacky bottom of the ninth, Viosergy Rosa would leadoff with a single. Following Rosa's single, Jesus Solarzano homered to shallow right center and due to the flyball, Rosa held his position in-between first and second base. Solarzano passed Rosa on the basepath and because of that Solarzano was ruled out. Rosa was able to round the bases for one run. Solarzano only received a single andRBI on the play due to his baserunning gaffe.
With Cameron Flynn at third, RiverDogs outfielder Kelvin De Leon tried chasing down a foul ball and had to come out of the game with an undisclosed injury. With De Leon out of the game, second baseman Angelo Gumbs moved to left field, while Francisco Rosario came off the bench to play second. The first play Rosario saw, he booted at second to allow Cody Keefer to reach first and Flynn to score from third. Michael Vaughn then grounded into a game ending fielders choice when Cito Culver made a fantastic diving play at short to end the contest.
RiverDogs starter Evan Rutckyj (8-6) picked up his team leading eighth victory of the season. Rutckyj's final line was five innings, three runs, two earned, on four hits, six strikeouts and one walk. Rutckyj was relieved by John Brebbia to start the sixth, and Brebbia sat down the Grasshoppers in order in his three innings of relief with one strikeout. Derek Varnadore allowed two runs, only one earned, in the ninth inning but eventually closed the door to seal the win.
Taking the loss for the Grasshoppers was their starter Daniel Oliver (2-3). Oliver's final line was four innings and he allowed six runs on nine hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
The RiverDogs will stay in the state of North Carolina as they open up a four game series in Hickory starting Saturday evening. Game one against the Crawdads is scheduled for 7pm Saturday at L.P. Frans Stadium. Charleston will send RHP Vicente Campos (1-2, 3.66 ERA) to the mound as Hickory counters with LHP Frank Lopez (2-3, 5.58 ERA). You can listen to the game live locally on ESPN 910 AM or online at www.riverdogs.com