COLUMBIA, SC – The Fireflies outlasted the Drive in 11 innings, 6-2, in a pressure-packed game on Wednesday night at Fluor Field. Columbia is only a half game back of Greenville for first place in the Southern Division. The club has four games left in the first half of the schedule.
Columbia (38-26) rallied with four runs in the 11th frame. Tim Tebow was hit by pitch to begin the inning and Jose Medina replaced Tebow as a pinch runner. Gene Cone came up clutch and smashed a two-run triple. The bats continued to catch fire. With two outs in the stanza, Greenville (39-26) reliever Dakota Smith (L, 0-1) surrendered a two-run homer to Dash Winningham. It’s the first baseman’s team-leading 11th long ball of the season. The visitors held a 6-2 advantage heading into the bottom of the 11th.
Matt Blackham (W, 3-0) came out of the bullpen to pitch in the tenth inning and slammed the door. The righty posted five strikeouts in two innings on the mound.
The Fireflies trailed the Drive, 2-1, after eight innings. Jay Jabs provided a major spark in the ninth frame. The 22-year-old launched a solo home run over the center-field wall and tied the game. However, there was a long debate about this homer. The ball hit the batter’s eye over the wall and bounced back into the outfield. The umpires originally ruled the play as a triple and the ball did not clear the wall. After both umpires discussed, the call was reversed and scored as a homer.
Merandy Gonzalez made his 11th start of the season and pitched 6.1 innings, allowed only four hits, and one earned run. Columbia starting pitchers have thrown at least six frames in each of the previous ten contests.
Columbia’s offense finished with 13 hits in the victory. Jabs finished with his first three-hit game of his professional career. Cone and Andres Gimenez each added two hits.
The Fireflies are back in action for the finale of a three-game series against the Greenville Drive on Thursday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Fluor Field. Harol Gonzalez (3-4, 4.34) starts on the mound for Columbia and faces Greenville’s lefty Logan Boyd (7-3, 4.26).
You can listen to the action on ESPN Columbia 94.9 FM and 1230 AM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 6:45 p.m.