Vientos and Newton Both Go Yard in Finale in West Virginia
CHARLESTON, WV - Columbia refused to quit on Wednesday afternoon at Appalachian Power Park. The Fireflies faced three separate deficits and erased them all, including two deficits in each of the final two frames. Mark Vientos and Shervyen Newton hit epic homers in the eighth and ninth innings respectively, but it was West Virginia with the final word in the series finale. The Power walked off in the bottom of the ninth to complete the three-game sweep of Columbia.
The Fireflies will leave Appalachian Power Park in the rear-view mirror, for sure. Columbia (13-14, 37-56) finished the 2019 season 0-6 against West Virginia (14-13, 51-46) with all six games in Charleston. The Fireflies drop to a game below .500 in the second half and now sit 1.5 games behind first-place Rome. The Braves host the Lexington Legends this afternoon.
Vientos launched the first firecracker in the late innings. Down 2-1, and with two outs in the top of the eighth, the Mets prospect vaulted a Reeves Martin fastball over the left-field wall. It was Vientos' team-leading 10th of the season. Vientos finished 3-for-4 at the plate and a triple shy of the cycle.
The Power quickly retook the lead a few moments later. It really felt like just a few moments as the home team pulled ahead 3-2 after just four pitches were thrown in the home half. Fireflies reliever Allan Winans (L, 0-2) allowed a lead-off bunt single to Charlie McConnell. McConnell dragged the bunt up the first-base line and Chase Chambers' shuffle to the base was off line. The ball rolled into the dugout and McConnell took second. He later jogged to third on a passed ball and in the blink of an eye tagged and scored on Manny Pazos' sacrifice fly.
Newton then led off the ninth with a bullet over the left-field fence to tie the score again. He drilled his sixth homer of the season - and second in as many days - off of closer Dayeison Arias (W, 2-1), who had yet to blow a save in seven tries this year. Arias soon struck out the next three batters.
Winans ran into trouble swiftly in the bottom of the ninth. He first hit Julio Rodriguez with a curveball and then allowed a single to Bobby Honeyman. Columbia manager Pedro Lopez decided to intentionally walk Austin Shenton and the bases were loaded with no one out. Winans bounced back to strike out Jake Anchia before Mike Salvatore came to the dish. He lifted a pitch out to center field and Rodriguez readied to tag. Columbia centerfielder Jose Medina made the catch but his throw to the plate was late.
The Fireflies finished with 10 more hits on Wednesday, on top of the 12 the club tallied on Tuesday night. Seven of those hits came against West Virginia starter Devin Sweet. The right-hander consistently worked out of trouble, though, and surrendered just one run in his seven innings of work.
His counterpart on Wednesday was Mets 6th-rated prospect Simeon Woods-Richardson, who turned in another strong performance. Woods-Richardson logged a career-best 5.1 innings, struck out eight, didn't walk anyone and scattered just four hits. At one point on Wednesday, Woods-Richardson retired 13 straight Power hitters.
Woods-Richardson has posted a 2.37 ERA over his last eight starts (38.0 IP) with 46 strikeouts and 10 walks.
After falling behind 1-0 in the opening inning, Fireflies outfielder Wagner Lagrange led off the second frame with the first of his two hits on Wednesday. He singled and moved into scoring position three hitters later when Brian Sharp poked a base hit. Medina stepped to the plate next and lined a high fastball down the right-field line. His double plated Lagrange and Columbia had things knotted up, 1-1. Lagrange finished 6-for-12 in the road series.
West Virginia broke the 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth. Pazos and Ryan Ramiz collected back to back singles against Woods-Richardson and there were runners at the corners quickly. Columbia's starter then retired Matt Sanders on a pop out to the shortstop before he was lifted for reliever Conner O'Neil. The first hitter O'Neil would face in two and a half weeks (the righty was previously on the injured list with St. Lucie) would be Mariners prospect Julio Rodriguez. The mighty outfielder drove a pitch high and deep to left and the runner at third was ready to tag. Lagrange made the catch but his throw to plate was late and Pazos scored to make it 2-1.
Columbia heads to Greenville and starts a three-game series with the Drive on Thursday at 7:05 ET. Right-hander Willy Taveras (5-7, 5.32) should get the start for the Fireflies at Fluor Field and face righty Brayan Bello (3-6, 6.85). Tune into the action at FirefliesLiveStream.com.
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South Atlantic League Stories from July 17, 2019
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