CHARLESTON, S.C. — Highly regarded pitching prospect Santiago Suarez dazzled in his Charleston RiverDogs debut, helping the team to a 7-2 victory over the Down East Wood Ducks on Thursday night at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.
The 18-year-old earned the victory by turning in 5.0 innings with one run allowed on three hits. The RiverDogs outhit Down East 11-4 in front of a crowd of 4,057.
After three quick innings from both starting pitchers, the Wood Ducks (23-22, 60-46) moved on top in the fourth. The inning began with a base hit from Gleider Figuereo, his second of the contest. The next batter, Miguel Villaroel hit a potential double-play ball toward short, but Carlos Colmenarez couldn’t handle it cleanly, and runners were at first and second with no outs. After a fielder’s choice groundout from JoJo Blackmon, Villaroel was caught leaning at first base and got into a rundown. While the RiverDogs were chasing him down, Figuereo darted home from third with the first run of the game.
It did not take long for the RiverDogs (29-16, 56-55) to answer. In the bottom of the same inning, Xavier Isaac extended the frame by working a two-out walk. That turned out to be a huge at-bat, because Ryan Cermak followed with a two-run home run to left center field and the RiverDogs had a 2-1 advantage. The long ball was Cermak’s sixth of the season.
Another run came across for the home team in the fifth inning. Colmenarez reached base on a fielder’s choice groundout and advanced to second with two outs when Thomas Ireland was called for a balk. That 90 feet made a difference when Cristopher Barete lined an RBI single to right field in the next at-bat.
Anthony Gutierrez opened the top of the sixth with a first-pitch home run off Gerlin Rosario to pull the Wood Ducks within one. That was the only run surrendered by the Charleston bullpen with Rosario retiring the next six hitters he faced. Junior William closed the night with 2.0 perfect innings to earn his second save.
While the relief corps was dominating, the offense removed all doubt from the outcome with four late runs. In the seventh, Raudelis Martinez and Jhon Diaz collected two-out RBI singles to widen the gap to 5-2. Colmenarez drove in the final two runs with a bases-loaded single in the eighth.
Barete paced the RiverDogs with a 3-3 night at the plate that included a double. Colmenarez added two hits as eight of the nine players in the starting lineup delivered at least one. Cooper Kinney’s eighth-inning single extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
The RiverDogs and Wood Ducks will meet again on Friday night at 7:05 p.m.