Fireflies Play Longest Game in Franchise History
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – The Fireflies set history Sunday night, playing the longest game in franchise history. Unfortunately, it will go down as a loss.
Rome scored six runs in the top of the 16th inning, leading the Braves to an 11-6 victory over the Fireflies.
Columbia (63-61) knotted the game up at 5-5 with a run in the bottom of the eighth, but no team would score for another eight frames. The game featured 12 pitchers – including two position players – and two hitters registered eight at-bats.
Rome (68-57) broke the 5-5 tie with a safety squeeze bunt off of Marcus Mooney’s bat. The ball rolled up the first-base line, Dash Winningham bare-handed the ball, flipped to the plate, but Jordan Rodgers slid in home just before Dan Rizzie’s tag. The visitors plated another run later in the inning to extend the lead to 7-5. Leudys Baez also drilled a grand slam in the inning to put the game just about out of reach.
Andres Gimenez plated a run in the bottom of the 16th, but that was all the offense left in the tank for the home team. Columbia fell to 4-5 in extra-inning games this season.
The begging of the contest was a see-saw battle that featured four lead changes in the first six innings. The Fireflies struck first when Gimenez slashed his third home run of the season in the opening inning. Rome knotted the tilt up with a score in the third, but Columbia jumped back ahead in the home half of the frame. Rizzie worked a lead-off walk and came home later in the inning on J.J. Franco’s base hit to right field.
The next half inning, the Braves plated two. Kurt Hoekstra blasted his second homer of the season to kick off the frame. Anthony Concepcion drove in a run with a single shortly thereafter.
The pendulum swung back in Columbia’s favor in the bottom of the fourth. The Fireflies regained a 4-3 lead thanks to Luis Carpio’s two-run dinger. It was his second of the year.
In the sixth, Kevin Josephina singled with one out and whizzed around the bases and scored on Rodgers’ triple. Two batters later, Isranael Wilson scored Rodgers with a single. The visitors were ahead, 5-4.
Ian Strom just about single-handedly tied the game up in the bottom of the eighth. Strom reached on a beautiful bunt up the third-base line and sprinted to second when Winningham slowly grounded out to the second baseman, Josephina. Strom stole third and then scored on a passed ball.
The 16-inning marathon featured four homers (two to a side). Franco and Jay Jabs finished with three-hit games for Columbia.
Rome’s first baseman, Hoekstra (W, 1-0), recorded the win. The righty made his second appearance on the mound this season and pitched the 15th and 16th frames. Joe Zanghi (L, 0-3) was dealt the loss for Columbia.
The series finale is scheduled for Monday at 1:05 p.m. It is Total Eclipse of the Park at Spirit Communications Park with totality of the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse projected for 2:41 p.m. The game will be briefly delayed shortly before the eclipse and will resume shortly afterward. Right-hander Colin Holderman (2-3, 4.85) starts for the Fireflies and faces the Braves’ lefty Joey Wentz (8-3, 2.19).
You can watch the action on MiLB.tv starting at 1:00 p.m. or listen in on ESPN Columbia 94.9 FM and 1230 AM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app at 12:45 p.m.
Fireflies PR contributed to this article.