In front of a sellout crowd of 7,792 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, the Charleston RiverDogs came up on the short side of a 6-1 Rome Braves victory on Friday night in South Atlantic League action. Rome southpaw Yean Carlos Gil pitched a career-high 7.2 shutout innings as Charleston hosted its largest Independence Day Celebration crowd since 2007 and the most fans at The Joe in 2014.
The RiverDogs are now 3-13 in the second half and 36-50 overall following their eighth straight loss. The Braves improve to 4-12 and 28-58, respectively.
Rome led from wire to wire after taking a 1-0 lead in the first. Keith Curcio was hit by a pitch to open the game and scored from third base later in the frame on a Carlos Franco groundout.
Charleston threatened when it began the third and fourth innings with back-to-back hits. Gosuke Katoh and Brandon Thomas singled in the third while Dustin Fowler and Miguel Andujar began the fourth with singles. Gil escaped each threat with three straight outs and would retire 13 consecutive batters. The RiverDogs put two runners in scoring position against Gil in the eighth inning before Pete Perez relieved him with an inning-ending strikeout.
A two-out rally in the fifth inning stretched Rome’s lead to 3-0. Curcio hit a solo home run to right field for his first professional round tripper. Afterwards, Reed Harper singled, advanced to second when Ross Wilson was hit by a pitch, and came in during a Victor Caratini single.
In the seventh, the Braves doubled their advantage to 6-0. Connor Lien led off with a bunt single and scored with a double by Curcio. An error off a ground ball from Reed Harper allowed Curcio to score another run. Near the end of the inning, Victor Reyes singled to bring in Harper. In a 2-for-4 night, Curcio scored three total runs and hit his first home run and a double.
The RiverDogs broke up the shutout bid in the ninth. Andujar’s leadoff double was quickly followed by a shutout-snapping single from Mike Ford that trimmed the deficit to 6-1. Eduardo de Oleo aided the comeback effort with a walk before Perez induced two straight fly outs. Murphy replied with a single to center field but Ford was thrown out at the plate for the final out.
Gil improved to 4-4 with the victory, allowing five hits while striking out five in 7.2 scoreless innings pitched. Charleston starter Omar Luis is 2-3 after the loss. Luis pitched four innings and gave up only two hits, two walks, and one run.
BALLPARK FUN: The Wells Fargo Independence Day Celebration was capped by the largest RiverDogs fireworks display of the season. Tristina Dupree sang “The Star Spangled Banner” as thousands of fans held up American flags given away by Carolina One while Fort Sumter National Monument’s 33-star replica flag was displayed behind the pitcher’s mound. Before the contest, retired Air Force Sergeant Butch Elkins received his new service dog, Abner, in a special pregame presentation from Canines for Veterans.
COMING UP: Game two of this three-game series is scheduled for 6:05pm on Saturday with RiverDogs RHP Rookie Davis (3-8, 5.19 ERA) pitching against Braves RHP Tyler Brosius (2-5, 3.97 ERA). The first 1,000 fans through the gates on Saturday will receive a Harold Ramis bobblehead. The Ghostbusters and their car, Ecto-1, are also coming to the game. It is also ABC News 4 Night from WCIV Channel 4, Watermelon Day, and Social Media Saturday. 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 onwww.riverdogs.com and locally on 1250 WTMA, the new radio home for RiverDogs baseball.
Box Score: http://atmilb.com/VoiLzf
Attendance Figures for Recent Independence Day Celebrations:
2014 – 7,792 (July 4)
2013 – 7,667 (July 3)
2012 – 7,192 (July 3)
2011 – 7,132 (July 4)
2010 – 7,536 (July 4)
2009 – 7,378 (July 3)
2008 – 7,019 (July 1)
2007 – 7,931 (July 3)
2006 – 8,257 (July 3)
2005 – 7,329 (July 3)