The Charleston RiverDogs had their first playoff campaign in 11 years come to an ill-fated end on Saturday night at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ballpark, falling to the Rome Braves, 4-1 in front of a crowd of 2,230 supporters.
Charleston’s loss on Saturday evening left them one game shy of stamping their ticket to the South Atlantic League championship round for the first time in franchise history.
The Dogs earned the South Division first-half title in July with almost an entirely different club, as many of the starters were called up to the high-A Tampa Yankees.
The season set records for attendance, 293,161 fans walked through the ballpark’s gates this season. Most notably, RiverDogs team manager Luis Dorante’s squad set an outstanding 76-63 record in the regular season, the most since the 2012 club.
The RiverDogs’ weekend in Charleston began in front of an energetic crowd of 5,135 on Friday night, when the Dogs defeated the Braves, 4-3, in what was the first playoff win in RiverDogs history.
In the seventh inning down by a score of 3-0, Charleston combined for four runs from shortstop Kyle Holder, first baseman Kane Sweeney, second baseman Hoy Jun Park and left-fielder Cesar Diaz. Despite the odds not being in their favor with Rome having a 90 percent win expectancy heading into the bottom of the 7th inning, Charleston prevailed in what was arguably the loudest game at “The Joe” this season.
Friday marked the first playoff victory in the RiverDogs name. They were swept in their back-to-back post-season appearances in 2004 and 2005.
Prior to this year’s RiverDogs squad, the last team to play in Charleston and obtain a playoff victory was the 1988 Charleston Rainbows, who defeated Myrtle Beach 3-1 in the opening round prior to being swept by Spartanburg 3-0 in the 1988 Finals.
24 hours later, in front of a crowd of 2,230, the Rome Braves were crowned division champions in the South Division of the South Atlantic League and advanced to face the Lakewood BlueClaws in the League Finals.
In what was a dominant 5th inning for Rome, the Braves combined for three runs with one by shortstop Alejandro Salazar and two from right fielder Ray-Patrick Didder.
“It was a great season for the RiverDogs and Charleston,” RiverDogs defensive coach Travis Chapman said following Saturday’s tilt. “Obviously, we wanted to end up north playing Lakewood but we ran into a buzz saw tonight and (Rome pitcher) Max Fried threw real well. They played a good game and they played a great three-game series and they came out ahead today.”
The Charleston RiverDogs will open their next season in the Holy City on April 7, 2017 at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ballpark against the Lexington Legends.