WATCH: Fireflies edge RiverDogs Tuesday night
CHARLESTON, SC – It seems as though every game between and Columbia and Charleston in 2018 is tense, competitive and close. That didn’t change on Tuesday and the Fireflies defeated the RiverDogs, 3-2, in the series opener at Joe Riley Park. Six of the nine games between the Mets and Yankees South Atlantic League affiliates have been decided by one run and the nine tilts have been decided by just 14 total runs.
The Fireflies rode the right arm of Briam Campusano (W, 1-0) to victory. The right-hander pitched five nearly flawless innings out of the bullpen, surrendered just five hits and one unearned run and struck out five while walking none. Campusano was particularly sharp pitching in and out of trouble in the eighth and ninth innings. Tuesday was Campusano’s first win of the season and first since August 7, 2017 (GCL Mets). Columbia (27-22) has also now won five of its last six games.
It was Charleston (23-27) who took a lead first in the second inning on Tuesday. Dermis Garcia drew a leadoff walk and then scored on Pablo Olivares’ screaming double into the right-field corner.
Columbia starter Jake Simon settled down and soon after retired seven straight batters. He was lifted in the fourth frame but allowed just the one run in his first start back off the disabled list.
The Fireflies tied the score in the top of the fifth. Hansel Moreno started the merry-go-round by fist ripping a base hit. He then moved up to second base after Edgardo Fermin reached on a fielder’s choice. Later, Blake Tiberiwalked and the bags were full. Charleston called upon Dalton Higgins (L, 1-1) out of the bullpen and one of the right-hander’s first pitches was hurled to the backstop. Moreno scored on the wild pitch and the game was knotted up at 1-1.
The visitors then took a 2-1 advantage the following frame. With one out, Matt Winaker bounced a grounder towards RiverDogs second baseman Wilkerman Garcia. He mishandled and Winaker reached on the error. A Quinn Brodey base hit enabled Winaker to whiz all the way to third. The next batter, Giovanny Alfonzo, torpedoed a line drive into centerfield. Olivares dropped the ball on the fly, which allowed Winaker to score from third. Winaker reached and scored on two Charleston defensive mistakes in the inning and Columbia pulled ahead.
A monumental insurance run was added in the top of the eighth. Winaker belted a double and jogged to third base when Brodey singled. Alfonzo then bounced a grounder to shortstop Kyle Holder. Winaker scored as Holder retired Brodey at second base. None of Columbia’s three runs on Tuesday scored on base hits.
Campusano yielded a run in the bottom of the eighth, but watched as Ali Sanchez threw Holder out attempting to steal second base that ended the inning and any further Charleston threat.
Raphael Gladu finished with a pair of hits (one of which a triple) on Tuesday, extending his franchise-record hit streak to 14 straight. The Canadian is hitting .367 during the streak.
Right-hander Tony Dibrell (1-2, 4.23) is expected to start for Columbia in game two against Charleston on Wednesday morning. First pitch is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. and the RiverDogs will counter with southpaw J.P. Sears (0-3, 2.08). You can listen to the action on FOX Sports Radio 1400 AM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 10:45 a.m.
VIDEO COURTESY: WCIV
Story by: Columbia Fireflies