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Total Team Win as Fireflies Fight for First Win in Second Half

June 21, 2019 - South Atlantic League (SAL) - Columbia Fireflies News Release

ASHEVILLE, NC - Columbia showed great resolve and poise on Friday in Asheville. The Fireflies erased a late deficit, forces extras and defeated the Tourists, 6-3, in 10 innings. It was Columbia's second extra-inning win of the season and first win in the second half.

The Fireflies entered the eighth frame down 3-1. Columbia (1-1, 25-43) had been flummoxed by Asheville (1-1, 30-42) starter Colten Schmidt all night. The lefty struck out 10 and surrendered just one run all the way back in the fourth.

But against reliever Bobby Johnson, the Fireflies' fortune changed. Ronny Mauricio clocked a base hit to start the frame and swung to third on Hansel Moreno's double to the right-center field wall. Wagner Lagrange was up next and grounded a pitch to second base. Lagrange was retired on the throw from second baseman Coco Montes, but he plated Mauricio from third. The next hitter, Chase Chambers, ripped a fly ball into deep center. Moreno tagged and scored from third. Chambers had just knotted things up at 3-3.

Alec Kisena (W, 1-2) came out of the Fireflies bullpen and hurled a scoreless home half of the eighth. After allowing the bases to load with just one out in the bottom of the ninth, Kisena showed amazing resiliency when he forced Grant Lavigne to bounce into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Kisena let out a roar as the two Southern Division rivals headed for extras.

Columbia wasted little time putting the pressure on Asheville reliever P.J. Poulin (L, 2-3) in the 10th. With the bases loaded and just one out, Chambers came back up to the plate and replicated what the he did in the eighth inning. The first baseman lifted another deep fly ball to center field. His sacrifice fly allowed Mauricio to tag and score from third. Shervyen Newton then knocked in a run with a single and Lagrange - who was hit by a pitch earlier in the frame - scored on a passed ball. The Fireflies led, 6-3.

Billy Oxford (S, 1) then heaved a one-two-three bottom of the 10th.

The comeback wouldn't have been possible had Jose Butto not pitched brilliantly earlier in the night. The starter struck out a career-high nine batters and shut out the home team until the sixth. Butto owns a 2.78 ERA over his last four outings.

Columbia was first on the board on Friday night. Lagrange led off the fourth inning with a drive off of the left-field wall. The outfielder's 10th double of the year set the table for Juan Uriarte who stepped to the plate two batters later. Columbia's catcher drove in Lagrange with a sharp single.

The Fireflies lost the 1-0 lead in the sixth. Butto had just finished five shut-out innings, but allowed back to back singles to Terrin Vavra and Montes to start the frame. Butto showed terrific poise. The right-hander struck out the next two hitters and had a chance to escape the jam. Butto had two strikes on the five-hitter, Grant Lavigne, before the lefty singled in both runners. Kyle Datres then knocked in Lavigne with a single and the Tourists led, 3-1.

The first three hitters in Columbia's order were active at McCormick Field. Mauricio, Moreno and Lagrange all scored two runs each and combined to reach six times.

Every Fireflies batter - outside of Chambers, who, remember, drove in two runs - hit safely on Friday.

The third game of the series is scheduled for 6:05 ET on Saturday at McCormick Field. Right-hander Christian James (2-5, 4.42) starts for Columbia and toes the rubber against Asheville southpaw Alfredo Garcia (1-7, 7.34).

You can listen to the action at FirefliesLiveStream.com.


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