Fireflies fall in extras to Power Monday night
COLUMBIA, SC – Columbia played in its seventh one-run game in its last nine, but came out on the losing end on Monday. West Virginia scored a run in the top half of the 11th and won the series opener, 3-2. The Fireflies have played in nothing but close games in the month of May: 15 of the 19 games have been decided by three runs or fewer.
Columbia (22-21) entered the ninth inning with a 2-1 advantage. The leadoff batter for the Power, Cal Mitchell, drew a walk and sprinted to third base on a Deon Stafford bloop single to right. The reliever Stephen Villines struck out Oneil Cruz but allowed a single to Rodolfo Castro that tied the score at 2-2. Columbia went down in order in the home half of the ninth and headed into extras for the eighth time this season.
The teams failed to score in the 10th, but West Virginia (24-17) wasted little time pulling ahead 3-2 in the 11th. With the runner Chris Sharpe placed at second base (as per the new Minor League Baseball regulations), Mitchell scorched an RBI double to left-center field. Taylor Henry (L, 0-1) then retired the next three hitters in order, including a strikeout of Castro.
Columbia went down in the bottom half of the 11th with nothing more than an Ali Sanchez single. The Fireflies could not tie or take a lead and dropped to 5-3 in extra-inning games in 2018.
This was the first time all season the Fireflies lost a game after having held a lead after eight frames. The club was previously 17-0 when leading heading to the ninth.
Columbia was trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh. The home team sprang for two scores to take its first lead. The inning began with a Matt Winaker triple down the right-field line. Winaker scored when Scott Manea bounced out to Cruz, the Power’s shortstop. Raphael Gladu was next hit by a pitch and then placed himself in scoring position after swiping second base. In a clutch moment, Edgardo Fermin slashed a base hit to left, scoring Gladu.
Speaking of Gladu, the Canadian singled in the fifth inning on Monday, extending his hit streak to 10 straight games – one off tying a franchise record.
Blake Weiman (W, 1-0) picked up the victory for West Virginia after hurling four scoreless frames.
A couple relievers out of Columbia’s bullpen were just as impressive. After starter Marcel Renteria exited the game in the first inning, Darwin Ramos (3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 K), Nicolas Debora (3.0 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 4 K) and Trey Cobb (1 IP, 0 ER, 2 K) combined to surrender just one run over 7.1 innings.
The two teams meet again on Tuesday at 7:05 ET from Spirit Communications Park. You can watch the game on MiLB.TV or listen to the action on FOX Sports Radio 1400 AM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 6:45 p.m.