Single-A Charleston clinches Carolina League crown

Just as it has throughout the season, Single-A Charleston dominated the playoffs en route to a second straight crown.

The RiverDogs finished a sweep of the Carolina League Championship Series with a convincing Victory 6-2 against the Lynchburg Hillcats on Tuesday night at Bank of the James Stadium.

Charleston ended its championship run with a perfect 4-0 playoff score. The RiverDogs outscored opponents 29-14, while trailing only one inning throughout the playoffs. The club finished the regular season with an 88-44 record and a +174 point differential.

“I think this group as a whole, from Day 1 through the whole season, showed up to work every day, wanted to get better every day, stayed hungry, and were never happy,” said the RiverDogs skipper Blake Butera. “So thank you to them for wanting it so badly and wanting to be successful, and when you end a season that way, it’s a surreal feeling.”

Goss had a hit in the sixth inning and was out after allowing two runs on five hits and a walk while sniffing out seven on a career-high 6 1/3 frames. The right-hander gave up a first single to Jordan Brown in the sixth and allowed another single in the inning, but escaped the frame unscathed, recording three out on five pitches.

The 21-year-old gave up a first homer to Isaiah Greene in the seventh and after driving a groundout in the second and landing his seventh punch on the night on Will Bartlett, Goss gave up a single and a triple RBI before being replaced by Antonio Jiménez. He came out after throwing 59 of his 82 pitches for strikes.

“JJ’s season really started to take off in the second half,” Butera said. “He’s a competitor on the mound and just one of those guys that when he’s out there you feel calm and confident because of what he’s done for us this year.”

Goss’ effort was more than enough for the Charleston attack. Williams opened the scoring with his second home run of the Championship Series, a solo shot to the center of a 2-1 offering by Lynchburg starter Trenton Denholm. Williams finished with two hits, a walk and a pair of runs scored.

“It was a 0-0 game at the time, so that home run just made us feel, ‘OK, here we are. We can do what we do and score points,'” Butera said. “We felt good with JJ, and the bullpen we have is exceptional, so any lead we have is good for us.”

In the sixth, Caminero opened the scoring in the frame with an RBI single to the right, and Jones capped a four-run frame for the RiverDogs with a two-run dinger to right center with two outs.

Bobby Seymour, who led the club’s other run in the sixth, led all batters with a 4-on-4 night that included a pair of doubles, a walk and two runs scored.

After the Hillcats scored their two runs in the seventh, Spikes capped the RiverDogs’ score with an insurance run in the eighth on a sacrificial left fly that tackled Seymour.

For the first 41 years of franchise history, the team went without winning a championship. Since becoming affiliated with the Rays ahead of the 2021 season, the team has posted the best record in minor league baseball and won back-to-back titles.

“The overall feeling is quite surreal,” Butera said. “Just very lucky to be surrounded by amazing players and staff.”

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