Fireflies Rally for Epic Win to Open up Series against Rome
COLUMBIA, SC - Columbia waited until the late innings to show off its courage on Thursday in the series opener against Rome. After trailing for much of the night, the Fireflies' offense ignited in the late innings, scored three runs with two outs in the eighth and defeated the Braves, 3-1. Thursday's win is the fifth straight against Rome.
With runners at second and third with two outs, and the game tied, 1-1, in the eighth, Jose Medina slashed a pitch from Tanner Lawson (L, 3-6) through the left side of the diamond for a base hit. The single plated Chandler Avant and Brian Sharp and gave the home team, remarkably, its first lead of the night.
Justin Lasko (W, 3-0), who had heaved a scoreless top half of the eighth, came back out for the ninth and proceeded to retire the side in order, including a pair of strikeouts to close out the game. Thursday was just the fifth time all season Columbia (24-29, 48-71) won a game when trailing after seven frames.
The Fireflies had trailed 1-0 from the fourth until the eighth. Just before Medina's heroic hit, Gerson Molina sparked the rally with a two-out flair into shallow center field. Avant then walked to give Columbia runners at first and second. Sharp battled at the plate against Lawson next. Even with two strikes, Sharp slapped a base hit to left field that scored Molina.
Thursday's victory was a much needed one for the Fireflies after dropping three straight to Charleston. The offensive woes from the RiverDogs series (four combined runs and nine hits in the three games) looked like they had carried over into the series opener against Rome (26-27, 56-66) after the first 15 Fireflies hitters were retired by starter Ryan Shetter at Segra Park. It wasn't until Guillermo Granadillo singled in the sixth did the offense get rolling.
Columbia would have never had a chance to win if not for the efforts of its starter, Bryce Hutchinson. The 20-year-old lasted a career-long seven innings and surrendered just the one Rome run in the fourth. After allowing an RBI single to Brendan Venter in that inning, Hutchinson went on to set down the final 10 hitters he faced.
In fact, the only Braves baserunner to reach beyond the fourth inning was Braden Shewmake who reached on a dropped third strike in the eighth. Hutchinson and Lasko scattered just five hits on Thursday.
Hutchinson has logged four straight starts in which he's gone five or more innings and allowed three or fewer earned runs.
Columbia is now 12-4 against Rome this season and 8-1 at Segra Park.
Game two of the series between the Fireflies and Braves is set for 7:05 ET on Friday at Segra Park. Right-hander Jose Butto (4-9, 3.63) will face the Braves' left-handed starter Dilmer Mejia (7-2, 2.34).
Friday's game is Back To School Night. Any fan who donates approximately $5 in value of school supplies will receive Buy-One-Get-One Free Palmetto Citizens FCU All-Star Tickets. The first 1,000 fans to park will also receive a Fireflies tin lunchbox.
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