Asheville Comes Back to Beat Fireflies, 8-7
ASHEVILLE, NC (Fireflies) — The two teams on Tuesday night combined for 15 runs and 25 hits, but it was Asheville that came out on top and defeated Columbia, 8-7, at McCormick Field. Vicente Lupo and J.C. Rodriguez nearly carried the Fireflies to victory, reaching base a combined six times. Lupo finished a triple shy of the cycle and slugged his first grand slam of the season and third of his career.
Lupo’s two most recent grand slams have come against the Tourists, ironically. Last year – wearing the Savannah Sand Gnats jersey – the slugger drilled one in Asheville on August 28. Tuesday was Lupo’s ninth multi-hit game of the season.
Rodriguez’s impressive outing started quickly. His seventh home run of the season in the second frame gave Columbia (19-32, 55-66) a 1-0 lead. Dash Winningham later plated Lupo in the frame, increasing the visitors’ lead to 2-0.
Asheville (25-25, 59-60) answered with a run in the home half of the second and then Brendan Rodgers’ solo home run in the third tied the game.
The teams traded runs in the fifth. The Fireflies jumped back ahead, 3-2. Lupo began the inning with a single and later came home on Luis Ortega’s base knock up the middle. After Rodgers doubled to begin the bottom of the frame for the Tourists, Brian Mundell drove in his team-leading 76th run of the year.
Lupo’s grand slam rocked McCormick Field in the top of the sixth. Columbia’s four-run lead wasn’t safe, though. Asheville cut the deficit in half with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and Sam Hilliard’s seventh-inning solo homer to center field sliced the Fireflies’ lead to one.
The Tourists loaded the bases against Craig Missigman (L, 1-4) with one out in the eighth before the righty was relieved for Jimmy Duff. Duff forced Mundell to line out to third base, but with two outs, Yonathan Daza knocked in two with a single to right field. Tourists reliever Salvador Justo (W, 3-1) claimed the win.
There were four long balls in the game. When Columbia and Asheville met at McCormick Field from June 16-19, 12 homers were tallied between the two squads in the four-game set.
Tuesday also marked the fourth straight one-run game the Fireflies have played in.
The three-game series continues Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Andrew Church (5-1, 1.67) goes for the visitors and righty Jesus Tinoco (3-6, 5.65) starts at his home park.
You can listen to the action on WGCV 620 AM and 96.3 FM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 7:00 p.m.