COLUMBIA, SC - The Fireflies rallied with five runs in the eighth inning and defeated the Legends, 5-3, at Spirit Communications Park on Tuesday night. Michael Paez and Desmond Lindsay provided clutch run-scoring hits in the frame. Columbia is five games above .500 for the first time since starting 5-0 earlier this season.
Columbia (30-25) trailed Lexington (29-29) 3-0 after seven innings and sparked a comeback. Grant Gavin (L, 1-2) walked the bases loaded in the eighth - Ali Sanchez , Milton Ramos , and Gene Cone all reached. Andres Gimenez recorded an RBI groundout and the home team inched closer, down 3-1. With the bases still packed and two outs, Paez delivered with a two-run single, which scored Ramos and Cone - tying the game at 3-3. The recently named all-star infielder remains second on the team with 35 RBIs.
Dash Winningham kept the rally alive with a two-out single. The squad continued battling in the eighth stanza - Lindsay's two-run single plated Paez and Winningham. The Fireflies took a 5-3 advantage heading into the ninth.
Max Kuhns pitched the ninth inning, stranded two runners on base, and earned his fourth save out of the bullpen. The righty has not allowed a run in 11 of his previous 12 outings. Adam Atkins (W, 1-0) also slammed the door with a scoreless eighth frame.
Gabriel Llanes maneuvered through seven innings on the mound in his 10th start of the year. The righty yielded eight hits and three runs, but did not walk anyone. It's the fifth time this season the 21-year-old has thrown seven or more frames.
For the sixth straight game, Columbia has played in a game decided by two runs or less. The Fireflies are 4-2 during this span and currently sit only 3.5 games back of Greenville for first place in the Southern Division.
The Fireflies are back in action on Wednesday for game two of this series against the Lexington Legends. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. at Spirit Communications Park. Righty Merandy Gonzalez (7-1, 1.73) makes the start for Columbia and southpaw Garrett Davila (4-1, 5.44) is scheduled to pitch for Lexington.
You can listen to the action on ESPN Columbia 94.9 FM and 1230 AM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 11:45 a.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.