CHARLESTON, SC - The Fireflies stumbled on Saturday but still remain a half game in front of the Greenville Drive with just one game left in the first half of the season. Columbia (40-27) lost to Charleston, 3-0, while the Rome Braves handed the Drive (40-28) an 8-5 defeat. The Fireflies clinch the division and a playoff spot with a win on Sunday.
Starter Thomas Szapucki (L, 1-1) allowed just three hits over six innings, but surrendered a pair of runs in the fifth. The lefty plunked Donny Sands, who later scored on Alex Palma's double. Palma reached third base on a wild pitch and tagged and scored thanks to Mandy Alvarez's sacrifice fly.
Charleston (33-36) added one more run in the eighth to build a 3-0 edge. Columbia (40-27) loaded the bases in the top of the ninth, but came away empty. RiverDogs starter Brian Keller (W, 5-5) stifled the visitors over six innings.
The Fireflies clinch a playoff berth on Sunday with a win, but can also clinch even if they lose. In that scenario, Columbia would need Greenville to fall as well in Rome.
Right-hander Gabriel Llanes (4-3, 2.93) is scheduled to start on Sunday against Charleston with first pitch at 1:05 p.m. Llanes faces RiverDogs righty Nick Green (4-4, 2.85).
You can listen to the action on ESPN Columbia 94.9 FM and 1230 AM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and on the TuneIn app starting at 12:45 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.