Senger Plates Three, Fireflies Fall in Ninth
ASHEVILLE, NC - Columbia backstop Hayden Senger had a breakout performance Saturday night in Asheville. Senger reached base safely three times in four trips and knocked in a season-high three RBIs. Two of those RBIs came on a two-out single off the right field wall in the fourth inning. The base hit tied the game and completed a four-run comeback for the Fireflies. Two innings later, the Ohio native put Columbia ahead with a solo homer to right-center. The blast was the 22-year-old's second of the season. Unfortunately, Senger's heroics were not enough to get the Fireflies the win. Columbia ultimately fell to the Tourists, 6-5.
Asheville (31-42) pounced early on Columbia (25-44) starter Christian James. Terrin Vavra led off the Tourists first with a walk. He later scored on a sacrifice fly from Grant Lavigne. Asheville followed their run in the first with a three-run second. Willie MacIver and Kyle Datres put up back-to-back triples to start the frame. Datres scored a batter later on a double off the bat of Daniel Montano. James rebounded by retiring the next two batters before allowing a two-out RBI double to Will Golsan.
James found his rhythm in the third. The Floridian-born righty worked through a jam that saw runners on the corners with one away. James went on to pitch a 1-2-3 fourth and fifth. The 21-year-old retired the last eight men he saw on the night.
Columbia's offense, meanwhile, told a similar story in reverse order. Asheville starter Alfredo Garcia faced the minimum through two. Brian Sharp led off the top of the third with a walk. Sharp would advance to second on a wild pitch, then score on an RBI-double from Taylor Lane. The two-bagger provided Lane with his first RBI as a member of the Fireflies.
Mark Vientos and Chase Chambers began the fourth with back-to-back singles. Vientos scored on a base hit from Wagner Lagrange. Lagrange notched his third consecutive game with an RBI on the base knock. Two batters later, Senger delivered his two-run single.
Columbia would threaten again in the fifth. The Fireflies had runners at the corners with two outs. The situation prompted a pitching change from Asheville, with manager Robinson Cancel electing to go with righty Derrik Watson. Watson would go on to strike out Shervyen Newton to get out of the jam.
Senger delivered his go-ahead homer in the top of the sixth. From there, it was a bullpen game. Columbia newcomer Danny Hrbek (H, 1) tossed a scoreless sixth and seventh to keep the Fireflies up by one heading to the final innings.
Jose Moreno (L, 2-4) took over in the eighth. The righty allowed a leadoff single to Lavigne, then induced fly-outs from the next two men he faced. Down by one with two outs, Asheville second baseman Kyle Datres produced a game-tying RBI double. Montano would reach on a free pass behind Datres, but Moreno ultimately got out of the inning by punching out Cade Harris.
The Fireflies began the ninth in promising fashion. Sharp started the inning with a single and Senger reached on a walk immediately after. Gerson Molina followed with a successful sacrifice bunt, advancing both Sharp and Senger. The sacrifice gave Columbia the chance to retake the lead with the top of their order due up. The Tourist's infield pushed in to the grass in an attempt to prevent a ground ball from bringing a run home. The decision payed off almost immediately. Fireflies shortstop Ronny Mauricio roped a ball directly at Vavra at short, who then threw to first to retire the SAL All-Star. Asheville closer Alexander Martinez (W, 3-4) answered by striking out Hansel Moreno to put the scoring chance to bed.
The bottom of the ninth passed almost as quickly as it came. Vavra began the frame with a four-pitch walk. Will Golsan batted behind him and attempted to advance Vavra with a sacrifice bunt. Golsan got the bunt down, and Moreno fielded the hopper cleanly in front of the mound. Moreno's throw, however, sailed over the head of Sharp at first and into the right field corner. Vavra was on his horse on the play and scored all the way from first, winning the game for the Tourists.
The Fireflies will conclude their series against Asheville on Sunday. LHP Thomas Szapucki (0-0, 2.45) will start against RHP Ryan Feltner (3-5, 4.87). Firs pitch is set for 2:05 ET. You can tune in to the action beginning at 1:45 ET on FireFliesLivestream.com, or watch at MiLB.TV.
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