Vientos Homers, Fireflies Fall Short in Asheville Slugfest
ASHEVILLE, NC - Columbia third baseman Mark Vientos put on a show in batting practice prior to Thursday night's game in Asheville. The Fireflies slugger repeatedly peppered balls off the monster-like wall in right at McCormick Field. Vientos continued the display into the game, blasting a solo homer well over the center field wall in the third inning. Unfortunately, the home run was not enough to propel Columbia to a win. The Fireflies ultimately fell to Asheville, 26-9.
Thursday evening's contest was extremely competitive through the top of the sixth. Columbia (24-43) and Asheville (30-41) combined for five ties and five lead changes over the first five and a half frames. The two teams played into the bottom of the sixth with the score knotted up at eight.
The next two innings drastically turned the tides in favor of the Tourists. Asheville scored 16 runs on 12 hits between the sixth and seventh, including three home runs in the seventh inning alone. The Fireflies managed to get a run back in the top of the eighth on a solo homer from Brian Sharp, but Asheville answered with two runs of their own a half-inning later.
While the final score certainly wasn't pretty, the Fireflies did have a solid night at the plate. Columbia put up nine runs on 16 hits in the loss. Vientos paired his solo homer with a two-run single in the fifth, totaling three RBIs on the evening. Every position player who made an appearance for the Fireflies had a hit, and six of the nine starters had multi-hit performances. Additionally, Wagner Lagrange, Vientos, and Sharp all had multiple RBIs.
There were also several milestones attributed to Thursday's game. Columbia and Asheville combined for 42 hits on the evening. That figure tied a South Atlantic League record for most combined hits from two teams in a single game. Additionally, Brian Sharp became the first player in Fireflies history to record a home run at the plate and a strikeout on the mound in the same game. The Missouri native took the hill in the bottom of the eighth in an emergency relief situation and pitched 0.2 scoreless innings. Sharp punched out John Cresto to record the final out of the frame.
The Fireflies look to rebound on Friday in game two of the series against the Tourists. RHP Jose Butto (2-7, 4.42) will start for Columbia against Asheville LHP Colten Schmidt (2-3, 1.69). First pitch is set for 7:05 ET. You can watch live at MiLB.TV or listen at FireFliesLivestream.com.
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