Columbia Fireflies Game Notes 5.17 at Fredericksburg

May 17, 2023 - Carolina League (CarL) - Columbia Fireflies News Release

The Fireflies continue their series with the Fredericksburg Nationals at Virginia Credit Union Stadium at 12:05 pm today. RHP Ben Kudrna (1-1, 4.85 ERA) toes the rubber for Columbia and LHP Jake Bennett (1-2, 2.05 ERA) gets the nod for Fredericksburg.

Columbia returns home Tuesday, May 23 to start a six-game series with the Charleston RiverDogs. The week marks the return of Copa de la Diversíon weekend presented by Southern Recipe Small Batch Pork Rinds, where the Fireflies will become Los Chiccarones de Columbia for the weekend. Friday, the Fireflies will give away a soccer scarf for the first 1,000 fans through the gates thanks to Southern Recipe Small Batch and Saturday, we'll have a fantastic fireworks display. Tickets are still available at


FIREFLIES CLOSE THE DOOR WITH SIX UNANSWERED: The Columbia Fireflies were down 4-0 exiting the third, but scored six runs after the fifth to win 6-4 vs the Fredericksburg Nationals at Virginia Credit Union Stadium Tuesday night. Lizandro Rodriguez capped off the comeback with a two-run blast in the eighth, scoring Jean Ramirez and putting the Fireflies (20-14) up 5-4. It was Ramirez's fourth round-tripper of the season and his first since April 30. In the eighth, Roger Leyton added some insurance, scoring Erick Peña from second with an RBI single. Leyton had three hits for a second-consecutive game Tuesday night. He's 6-8 since Sunday.The bullpen came out and closed the door against Fredericksburg. Eduardo Herrera got things started with two scoreless frames before handing the ball to Chazz Martinez (W, 3-3) who went a pair of innings without allowing a run.

I'M LOOKING AT THE MAN IN THE MIRROR: David Sandlin and Frank Mozzicato have gone back-and-forth on the strikeouts leader board for the Carolina League this season. Thursday it was Mozzicato who retook the lead with seven punchouts to leave him with 48 on the season. He's one ahead of Sandlin. The next closest in the Carolina League is Fayetteville's Trey Dombrowski, who has 39 strikeouts on the campaign. Entering Sunday's game, the two Fireflies were also first and second in the circuit with 29.1 and 27.2 innings.

THE RIGHT FOOT: Last night, the Fireflies played the Nationals for the first time in franchise histroy. Although Columbia was trailing 4-0 after the third frame, the scored six after the fifth to win 6-4. Prior to the restructuring of Minor League Baseball, Columbia finished 15-15 against the Hagerstown Suns, who were the Nationals Class-A Affiliate.

MC-KLUTCH-MAN: Fireflies reliever Cooper McKeehan has been on a tear this road trip. The southpaw has three appearances, earning three saves since May 10. The reliever now has four saves and is tied with John McMillon for the second-most saves in the Carolina League

COMEBACK KUDRNA: After a tough start to the year, the Royals number two prospect, according to, Ben Kudrna has put together back-to-back impressive starts. The righty worked his first quality start of the season May 4 vs Myrtle Beach and prior to allowing a solo homer in the fourth inning May 10 at Salem, had a 14.2 inning scoreless streak. The streak was the longest scoreless streak for a pitcher in the Carolina League this season.

IT'S A MAJOR AWARD: Columbia's relief pitcher Steven Zobac allowed a runner to reach scoring position for the first time this season Tuesday night, but the righty didn't allow anyone to score. Zobac has not allowed a run in his first 11 innings of the season, giving him the third-longest scoreless stretch of the season in the Carolina League. His performance has been good enough to earn him Carolina League Pitcher of the Month honors. He's the first Fireflies player to win a Carolina League monthly award.

PICKING PENA: Outfielder Erick Pena has hit his stride after struggling in the first 15 games of the season. The outfielder paces the team with five homers and is tied for the team lead with Daniel Vazquez with 19 RBI. So far in May, Pena is slashing .250/.417/.472 with two long balls and 10 RBI in as many games. That beats his April where he put up .093/.269/.296 with three homers and nine RBI in 17 contests.

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Carolina League Stories from May 17, 2023

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