COLUMBIA, SC - After nearly a week of battling mother nature for the right to play a full nine innings, Columbia finally got its wish on Tuesday night. The Fireflies offense released four cancelled (and one shortened) games worth of built-up frustration in an 8-1 rout against Asheville.
Eight Columbia (24-37) batters combined for 10 hits on the evening. Nine of those base hits came against Tourists (28-37) starter Alfredo Garcia (L, 1-6).
The Fireflies welcomed Garcia to Segra Park with a three-run first inning. Centerfielder Hansel Moreno began the rally with a single, then stole second. Chase Chambers then delivered a two-out single through the middle, bringing Moreno home. The two-out rally continued thanks to an RBI double from Shervyen Newton , followed by a run-scoring single from Wagner Lagrange .
Columbia padded their lead an inning later. After Taylor Lane reached on an error, Hansel Moreno doubled into the gap in left-center. Lane would advance to third on the play. Fireflies third baseman Mark Vientos dug into the box next and ripped a single into center, scoring both Lane and Moreno. The two runs increased Vientos' team-leading RBI total to 24.
The bats slowed slightly after the first two innings, but didn't come to a complete stop. Juan Uriarte mashed a solo home run in the third and Gerson Molina did the same in the sixth. In the seventh, Hansel Moreno doubled again to start the frame. The two-bagger by Moreno was his second of the game, and third total hit on the evening. He later scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Wagner Lagrange.
While the Fireflies certainly got it done at the dish in Tuesday night's win, the men on the mound were equally as good. Left-handed starter Thomas Szapucki had arguably his best outing thus far in 2019. The southpaw allowed just a hit and a walk in 2.1 scoreless innings to begin the game. Szapucki exercised pinpoint control for most of his outing, but was removed from the game after issuing a one-out free pass in the third. The baserunner turned out to be a non-issue, however, as reliever Alec Kisena forced an inning-ending double play on his second pitch after taking the mound.
From there, it was all Jose Butto (W, 2-7). The righty performed brilliantly in five innings of relief. Butto allowed the lone Asheville run of the night on back-to-back doubles in the fifth, but held the Tourists hitless for the next three innings. Chris Viall pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the win for Columbia.
Bottom 1: Chase Chambers singles up the middle, Hansel Moreno scores…Shervyen Newton doubles, Chambers scores from first…Wagner Lagrange singles, Newton scores from second. COL 3, ASH 0
Bottom 2: Mark Vientos singles to center, Taylor Lane and Hansel Moreno score. COL 5, ASH 0
Bottom 3: Juan Uriarte mashes a solo home run (3) to left. COL 6, ASH 1
Top 5: Daniel Montano doubles down the right field line, Willie MacIver scores. COL 6, ASH 1
Bottom 6: Gerson Molina hits a solo homer (3) to right. COL 7, ASH 1
Bottom 7: Wagner Lagrange reaches on a fielder's choice, Hansel Moreno scores from third. COL 8, ASH 1
Columbia will conclude its series against Asheville on Wednesday. RHP Willy Taveras (4-5, 3.90) is expected to start for the Fireflies. He'll duel against Tourists RHP Jake Bird (4-1, 2.85) in the deciding game. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 ET. You can watch the game on MiLB.TV or listen at FireFliesLivestream.com.
Wednesday is also a Trash the Poop Wag-Along Wednesday at Segra Park. You can bring your dog to the ballpark and take in the action surrounded by several furry friends.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.