COLUMBIA, SC - Dash Winningham plated the winning run on Thursday in the bottom of the ninth and the Fireflies defeated the Grasshoppers, 2-1. It was the fifth walk-off win of the season for the Fireflies.
Columbia (8-12, 48-40) had just tied the game in the bottom of the eighth and saved the most pertinent drama for the final inning. Ian Strom began the frame with a groundball that was booted by Greensboro's third baseman, James Nelson. With Winningham at the plate, Strom took off for second base on Parker Bugg's (L, 2-2) 3-2 pitch and Winningham clubbed the baseball into right-center field. Strom galloped around the third-base bag and scored before the throw home. It was Winningham's team-best 51st RBI.
Starters Thomas McIlraith and Kolton Mahoney put on a show for the 3,499 in attendance on Thursday at Spirit Communications Park. Mahoney hurled six scoreless frames for Greensboro (9-10, 46-41) while McIlraith struck out five over seven strong innings.
The only run McIlraith allowed came in the sixth. Brian Miller tripled with one out and scored on James Nelson's infield single - a dribbler up the third-base line.
Columbia then tied the game with some eighth inning magic. First, Vinny Siena launched a double. Then Andres Gimenez bunted Siena over to third base. Columbia's second baseman scored on a passed ball that nudged behind the catcher Bryan De La Rosa.
Siena, Arnaldo Berrios and Desmond Lindsay all finished with a pair of hits.
Matt Blackham (W, 4-1) picked up the win, following McIlraith with two scoreless innings out of the bullpen. The righty struck out four.
The Fireflies can take two of three games from the Grasshoppers with a victory on Friday night. First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Southpaw Blake Taylor (1-8, 4.77) starts for Columbia and faces Greensboro right-hander Ethan Clark (0-1, 5.87).
You can watch the action on MiLB.tv starting at 7:00 p.m. or listen in on ESPN Columbia 94.9 FM and 1230 AM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and on the TuneIn 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.