CHARLESTON, SC - The first victory in Fireflies franchise history goes down in the record book as a special one. On Saturday night, Thomas McIlraith, Alex Palsha and Johnny Magliozzi combined to no-hit the Charleston RiverDogs at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park. With the help of catcher Jose Garcia, the trio struck out 13 batters and led Columbia to a 9-0 win.
"Boy, I was trying not to think about it [in the ninth]," Manager Jose Leger laughed. "This was special. McIlraith led the way with good command of his stuff. Palsha's fastball looked great, and gave us two good innings, and Magliozzi, he was in sync."
Saturday was McIlraith's first start of the season and the Texan cruised through six innings, allowing just two walks and striking out six.
Palsha was the first arm called upon out of the pen. He faced six batters in the seventh and eighth innings and struck out four. With plenty of offensive support - a 9-0 lead - Magliozzi took the rubber for the start of the ninth. He fanned the side to clinch the no-hitter.
The trio finished in style, too. McIlraith, Palsha and Magliozzi struck out 10 of the final 13 RiverDogs batters.
"And a lot of credit to [Jose] Garcia," Leger mentioned. "He called a great game. And the pitcher's followed his plan."
Not to be forgotten, another franchise-first occurred in the top of the first inning. With two runners aboard, David Thompson bashed the first home run in franchise history to give the Fireflies an early 3-0 lead.
Vinny Siena helped the visitors pad the lead in the fourth inning. His sacrifice fly plated Kevin Kaczmarski to make it a 4-0 ballgame. Siena's hot start continued - he reached base twice more on Saturday and now owns a .538 on-base percentage.
Columbia added another run in the fifth and took control for good in the sixth. Kaczmarksi doubled - one of his three hits - and the bases loaded after Siena walked and Dash Winningham was hit with a pitch. Thompson's groundout brought in a run and two batters later Joe Tuschak singled in a run. A wild pitch enabled the Fireflies to add one more and take an 8-0 lead into the eighth.
Columbia scored once more in the top of the ninth, but that proved to be just the appetizer for what came in the bottom of the frame.
The Fireflies try to top their Saturday night brilliance on Sunday evening against the RiverDogs at 5:05 p.m. Lefty Kevin Canelon goes up against Charleston right-hander Simon De La Rosa.
You can listen to the action on WGCV 620 AM and 105.1 FM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 4:45 p.m.