The top team in the South Atlantic League came to Columbus Friday night. They're still the top team. But only if you look at the record. The Columbus Catfish showed why they could claim to be the top team in the league, after their 6-3 win over the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees).
Starter Jason Ragan went 7 innings, allowing 1 run, out-dueling Charleston's Zach McAllister en route to his 3rd win of the season.
Ragan set down the first 12 batters he faced before allowing a lead-off double and a 2-out single in the 5th.
McAllister kept the Catfish off-balance for most of the 6 innings he faced them. However, the Catfish made the most of the scant opportunities presented.
In the bottom of the 1st, with 1 out, 2B Cody Cipriano was hit on the arm by a pitch. He moved to third on a grounder through the gap to right field by RF Maiko Loyola. Loyola stole second easily. 3B Greg Sexton advanced the runners, driving in Cipriano on a grounds out to short. McAllister struck out LF Stephen Vogt, but Charleston C Austin Romine let the ball get past him, allowing Vogt to make it to first and Loyola to score, putting the Catfish up 2-0 on just 1 hit.
The Catfish got 2 base runners on in the 2nd, but were unable to score. DH Seth Dhaenens, who had singled earlier, tried to score from second on a single by CF Emeel Salem, but Charleston LF Austin Krum threw him out on a perfect throw from left, ending the inning.
The Catfish were kept off the bases until the 5th. SS Omar Luna reached on a fielder's choice, stole second, and moved to third on the same play, when McAllister's pitch to the plate was wild. Salem reached on an error that allowed him to take second and Luna to score, giving the Catfish a 3-1 lead.
In the 7th, against the Charleston bullpen, Dhaenens doubled, then went to third on a 1-out bunt single by Salem. Cipriano laid down a sacrifice bunt to first, scoring Dhaenens, putting the 'Fish up 4-1.
Reliever Kevin Boggan took over for Ragan in the 8th, and the wheels nearly fell off. But not because of a bad outing by Boggan. He struck out the first batter, but allowed a single to C Austin Romine. A double play ball by SS Carmen Angelini to Cipriano turned into a near disaster. He threw wild to Luna, allowing Charleston to have two runners in scoring position. Romaine scored on a single by RF David Williams, who got hung up between first and second when Luna cut the throw off from Loyola. When Angelini tried to score on the run-down, Cipriano threw wild to the plate, allowing the run to score and Williams to take second. With the gap closed to 4-3, Boggan set down the next two batters to end the Charleston rally.
With 1 out in the bottom of the 8th, Vogt singled, then scored when C Mike McCormick singled, and the ball got away from Krum. McCormick made it to third before the ball got back to the infield. 1B Henry Wrigley singled to center, scoring McCormick, and the Catfish lead was back up to 3 runs, 6-3.
Boggan got a ground out, a fly ball out, and 2 stike outs in the 9th to seal the win for Ragan and pick up his first save.
Dahnens had a 3-for-3 night, with a double, a walk, and a run scored. Salem was 2-for-3. Luna was 0-for-4, dropping his team-leading average to .370, but he did score a run. Cipriano was also hitless in 2 at-bats, but scored and dove in a run. The rest of the Catfish each had a hit.
Ragan struck out 3, allowing 1 run on 2 hits in 7 innings. Boggan also struck out 3 in 2 innings work, allowing 2 unearned runs on 2 hits.
The win was the 4th in a row, and the 6th in 7 games, for the Catfish, who improved to 8-7, and moved in to 4th place, 4 games behind Charleston.
The two teams face off again Saturday night.