COLUMBIA, SC - The hottest team in the South Atlantic League hit a bump in the road on Saturday at Segra Park. After scoring 23 combined runs on Thursday and Friday, Columbia managed just three hits in a 2-0 loss to Greenville.
Columbia's (22-26, 46-68) season-best six-game win streak came to an end on Saturday. Even despite being held to just three hits, the Fireflies put the ball into play all evening, striking out just three times. The home team just couldn't make solid contact against Greenville (18-29, 50-67) starter Chase Shugart (W, 6-3). The right-hander nearly went the distance and logged a career-high eight innings. Shugart didn't allow any hard-hits outside of Walter Rasquin's double in the third.
Chase Chambers and Mark Vientos were the only other Columbia batters to record hits. Vientos has had a fine series. The Mets prospect has hit safely in all three and is 5-for-15 at the plate with a homer and two doubles.
Shugart only allowed two baserunners to reach scoring position and closed out his start by retiring the final eight hitters he faced.
His counterpart, Fireflies starter Bryce Hutchinson (L, 4-7), was with him every step of the way in his five innings of work. Hutchinson allowed just one run in the fifth. Tyler Esplin slapped an RBI single into left with the bases loaded and two out. Esplin scored Brandon Howlett - and only Howlett - thanks to Guillermo Granadillo's defensive efforts. The left fielder scooped up the base hit and threw a strike to the plate to catch Alan Marrero attempting to score as well.
That was one of two outfield assists for the Fireflies on Saturday. Right fielder Brian Sharp also threw Howlett out at second aiming to stretch a single into a double.
Hutchinson at one point in the game retired 11 straight Drive hitters. His successor on the slope, Jake Simon , posted perhaps his finest outing of the season. Simon faced the minimum his first three frames on the mound, striking out three in the process. Simon was relieved after he plunked Triston Casas to start the ninth. Simon was lifted for righty Jose Moreno , who allowed Casas to score after Kole Cottam doubled later in the inning.
Hunter Haworth (S, 2) collected the save for Greenville as well.
Saturday's contest was the second-quickest of the year. The game lasted just two hours and 14 minutes, sixty seconds longer than Columbia's game against Kannapolis (2:13) on July 31.
The Fireflies can win the series with a victory on Sunday at 5:05 ET. Right-hander Jose Butto (4-9, 3.71) takes the ball for Columbia and toes the rubber against Greenville's Brayan Bello (5-7, 6.15). You can watch the at MiLB.TV.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.