Avant Continues Surge at the Plate on Friday Night
COLUMBIA, SC - Chandler Avant put the ball into play again on Friday night at Segra Park. An evening after the infielder smashed his first homer of the year, Avant drove in another run. It was the only run for the Fireflies in a 5-1 loss to Lexington.
Avant has improved mightily at the plate. Not only did he single on Friday, but he also walked. Avant has reached safely in nine straight games and owns the best on-base percentage (.368) on the team since May 16. The former Alabama Crimson Tide is also hitting .273 during that span of 20 games.
Austin Cox (W, 5-3) was the story on Friday, though. Lexington's (35-32) lefty starter hurled eight shut-out innings and picked up his fifth win of the year (all away from home, oddly enough). Columbia (24-40) loaded the bases against Cox in the second but did little else the remainder of the night against the southpaw. Cox threw 119 pitches, 84 of which were strikes.
Cox and Fireflies starter Christian James (L, 2-5) were marvelous over the first four innings, each shutting out their opponents. Lexington finally scored the game's first run in the fifth. James had retired five straight batters before walking the lead-off man, Reed Rohlman. The next hitter, Brhet Bewley, bunted Rohlman over and he was in scoring position for Michael Gigliotti. Gigliotti drove a pitch up the middle for a base hit and Rohlman swung around third. Fireflies center fielder Hansel Moreno came up throwing and slung a near-perfect strike to the plate. The ball was dropped by Columbia's catcher and the error allowed the Legends to take a 1-0 advantage.
The flood gates opened the following inning. Lexington distanced itself from the home teams with four runs and five hits in the frame. Rohlman knocked in two with a double and Bewley and Chase Vallot each roped RBI singles. James was relieved with two outs in the inning but only three of the runs charged against him were earned.
Columbia's relief pitchers were sharp on Friday. Christian Tripp made his Fireflies debut and logged two scoreless frames and surrendered no hits. Jose Moreno followed with an inning and a third of shut-out work.
Both Hayden Senger (triple) and Taylor Lane (double) hit the ball hard and registered the lone extra-base hits for the Fireflies.
The series continues on Saturday. First pitch between the Mets and Royals affiliates is scheduled for 6:05 ET. Right-hander Bryce Hutchinson (2-3, 2.72) is expected to start for Columbia in the third game of the four-game set. You can watch the game on MiLB.TV.
You can also purchase tickets for the game at FirefliesTickets.com. Saturday is 60s Night featuring a spectacular postgame fireworks display.
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