Asheville, NC - The Greenville Drive put together a big inning early in Saturday's contest against the Asheville Tourists, but the Tourists clawed their way back throughout the night, taking the lead in the eighth and holding on for a 5-4 win.
The eighth inning Asheville (6-4) rally began with two outs, and it featured three consecutive singles off Hunter Smith (0-1), the third of which was the go-ahead hit by Manuel Melendez.
The Drive (6-4) made things interesting in the ninth, loading the bases with one out thanks to singles by Isaias Lucena and Lorenzo Cedrola and a walk to Santiago Espinal. Facing the dangerous part of the Greenville order, Tourists reliever Kenny Oakley was unfazed, punching out back-to-back hitters to end the game and notch the save.
Melendez led off the bottom of the first for Asheville with a single, and he eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Vince Fernandez to put the Tourists up 1-0.
The Drive struck for all four of their runs in the third inning. An Asheville error began the inning, and following a Cedrola single, a misplay in right field allowed the tying run to score. Espinal then delivered a single of his own to put the Drive ahead 2-1, and later in the frame, Tucker Tubbs smoked a two-run double to left to extend the lead.
Over the fourth and fifth innings, the Tourists scored three times to chase Drive starter Robby Sexton from the game. A two-out single in the fourth by Willie Abreu was followed by an RBI double by Taylor Snyder, and Fernandez laced a two-run single in the fifth to tie the game.
Cedrola and Lucena picked up two hits apiece for Greenville, and Pat Goetze hurled two and a third scoreless relief innings in his season debut. Melendez and Joel Diaz each collected three hits for Asheville, while Fernandez and Colton Welker both chipped in with two hits.
The series finale is set for 2:05 PM on Sunday in Asheville. The Drive will send right-hander Shaun Anderson (1-0, 0.84) to the mound as they aim to split the four-game series, and the Tourists will counter with right-hander Brandon Gold (0-0, 5.40).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.