Medina and Mauricio Power Columbia to Victory
GREENVILLE, SC - The Fireflies snapped their losing streak with a solid dose of offense on Saturday night. Jose Medina and Ronny Mauricio were the catalysts and combined for five hits in Columbia's 6-3 win over Greenville. The Fireflies can split the series with a victory on Sunday afternoon.
Medina is now 8-for-19 at the plate during the road trip and has hit safely in five straight games. Mauricio, on the other hand, collected three more hits and has 99 for the year. That's good for top five in the South Atlantic League.
Saturday's game began much like the prior two tilts, with Greenville (14-16, 46-54) scoring first. The Drive plated a run with two outs in the bottom of the first when Kole Cottam doubled home Tristan Casas. Starter Daison Acosta would soon work out of the jam, though.
The Fireflies took their first lead of the entire road trip in the third. Taylor Lane got things started with a one-out single and scrambled to third base on onny Mauricio's double down the left-field line. Chase Shugart (L, 5-2) would make the first mistake just moments later. The righty served up a wild pitch that bounced to the back stop. Lane scored and Mauricio moved over to third. That allowed Mauricio to tag and score later in the inning when Mark Vientos lifted a sacrifice fly to center. The score was 2-1 after three.
Columbia (14-16, 38-58) would then plate three more runs in the fifth. Gerson Molina bashed the first pitch he saw from Shugart and sent it to the wall in left. It was Molina's 10th double and first in two weeks. Lane walked and then Mauricio came back to the plate. He topped a slow roller up the third-base line that Greenville catcher Alan Marrero pounced on. His off-balance throw to third was way off line and skipped into left. The error allowed Molina to score and two runners were on.
Vientos drove in his second run of the night with a single later in the inning. Mauricio made it a 5-1 advantage when he scored on Hayden Senger's ground ball to first base.
Greenville chipped away at the deficit with a run in the bottom of the fifth, but the Fireflies jumped right back ahead by four the following frame. Brian Sharp led off the sixth with a screaming double to the right-field gap and came home to score on Mauricio's third hit of the night. The Fireflies were up, 6-2.
Brandon Howlett's solo home run in the bottom of the seventh proved to be useless. That was the last bit of offense on Saturday.
Fireflies reliever Conner O'Neil collected his first win in his return to Columbia. The righty struck out three in 1.2 frames of work. That was just a microcosm of how effective Columbia's pitchers were on Saturday. Acosta, O'Neil, Danny Hrbek and Allan Winans (S, 6) combined for 15 strikeouts, tying the season-best mark.
Winans recorded a four-out save after he retired all batters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings.
The series finale is set for 3:05 ET on Sunday at Fluor Field. Jaison Vilera (3-6, 5.00), who returned to Columbia's roster this week, is scheduled to start for the Fireflies. Vilera will toe the rubber against Drive right-hander Chris Machamer (3-6, 5.38). You can listen to the game by visiting FirefliesLiveStream.com.
Remember, the Fireflies return to Segra Park on Tuesday. Columbia starts a three-game series against the Augusta GreenJackets on July 23. You can get your tickets for the homestand at FirefliesTickets.com.
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South Atlantic League Stories from July 20, 2019
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