ROME, GA - Columbia starter Blake Taylor impressed again in his start on Monday, but the Fireflies dropped the series opener to the Rome Braves, 3-2. The visitors had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with two outs in the top of the ninth, but came up just short.
Taylor (L, 0-2) allowed two runs in the third and fourth innings but was solid the rest of the way. The southpaw has now posted back-to-back seven-strikeout outings.
It was Cristian Pache and Randy Ventura who drove in the first two Rome (9-3) runs with singles. The Fireflies cut the deficit in half in the fifth. Tim Tebow grounded an Adam McCreery (W, 1-0) pitch sharply to the shortstop Derian Cruz. He bobbled and Tebow reached on the error. The former Florida Gator moved to second after Jose Medina's single and later scooted to third. Tebow scored moments later when Braves' third baseman Juan Yepez committed a throwing error.
Rome retook a two-run lead with a score in the bottom of the eighth but Columbia (7-5) nearly rallied in the ninth. The inning started with three straight singles - the last of which off Jay Jabs' bat plated Medina. Tebow tallied one of those three hits and wound up at third base with just one out after Ali Sanchez's successful sacrifice bunt. Braves' reliever Brandon White retired the next two hitters, though, to end the game.
Jabs had a productive day at the plate with a pair of singles, a walk and the ninth-inning RBI.
Columbia and Rome meet again at State Mutual Stadium on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. The pitching matchup pits Fireflies' right-hander Harol Gonzalez (0-1, 6.52) against Braves' righty Jeremy Walker (0-0, 7.04).
You can listen to the action on ESPN Columbia 94.9 FM and 1230 AM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 6:45 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.