Fireflies Fall to Lexington, 12-11
LEXINGTON, KY (Fireflies) – The Fireflies erased a four-run ninth-inning deficit, but lost in walk-off fashion on Sunday to the Legends. Travis Maezes hit the game-winning home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, sealing Columbia’s 12-11 loss. The Fireflies smashed three home runs at Whitaker Bank Ballpark – including two in the top of the ninth.
The visitors carried a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth, that was when the wackiness began. Seven Lexington (14-15, 39-59) runs came around to score – the first three thanks to two wild pitches and another on a hit batter. The bases were still loaded when Michael Hill vaulted a grand slam over the right-field wall. The Legends improbably pulled in front, 11-7.
The more impressive comeback occurred in the top of the ninth, though. Dale Burdick began the frame with a single for Columbia (8-21, 44-55). Two batters later, J.C. Rodriguez drilled a long ball over the right-field wall that pulled the Fireflies within two runs. After Gabe Cramer (W, 3-1) was called out of the bullpen, Eudor Garcia welcomed him into the game with another homer. Columbia was down just one run.
Then Dash Winningham doubled and Tucker Tharp came in to pinch run at second base. After Vicente Lupo flew out to left field, Brandon Brosher walked and Columbia had runners at first and second. Joe Tuschak was at the plate next, down to his final strike, when he struck a grounder swiftly over to second base. Maezes knocked the ball down but it rolled to his left. Just as he picked it, both Tharp and Brosher were sprinting around third and second base, respectively. Maezes threw Brosher out at third, but it occurred after Tharp had touched home plate. The Fireflies scored the tying run just in the nick of time before the third out of the inning was recorded. The four-run deficit was erased.
Maezes then hit the home run in the bottom of the ninth after Craig Missigman (L, 1-2) had retired the first two batters with ease.
Earlier in the game, the visitors jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first frame. Winningham’s three-run home run highlighted the opening inning. The Ocala, Florida, native finished a triple shy of the cycle, notching his third three-hit game of the year.
After the Legends plated a run in the bottom of the third, Columbia stretched its lead to 6-1 in the fourth. Tuschak walked to start the frame – the first of three walks on the day for the lefty – and came home on Burdick’s triple. Enmanuel Zabala then knocked in Burdick with a single.
The home team was pesky all night, and showed its fight in the bottom of the fourth. Ben Johnson scorched a three-run dinger that cut the Fireflies’ lead down to two runs. The visitors added another run in the fifth before the madness ensued three innings later.
After Sunday’s 3-hour and 35-minute marathon, the two teams meet again on Monday night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark at 7:05 p.m. Righty Joe Shaw (4-7, 4.81) starts for Columbia and faces Lexington’s Nolan Watson (2-8, 8.06).
You can listen to the action on WGCV 620 AM, 105.1 and 96.3 FM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 7:00 p.m.