Dominant pitching was the reason behind Columbia’s three-game sweep of Rome at State Mutual Stadium, especially, as the Fireflies took down the Braves, 3-2. Starter Chase Ingram (W, 1-0) and relievers Craig Missigman and Alex Palsha (S, 1) struck out a season-high 14 batters. Twice before this season, the Fireflies fanned 13 hitters in one game.
Columbia (4-3) jumped three teams and now sits atop the South Atlantic League in total strikeouts (70). More impressive, Fireflies pitchers haven’t walked a batter in three straight games — dating back to game one ofdoubleheader. In addition to the trio ,Tyler Badamo, Johnny Magliozzi, Joe Shaw and Tyler Bashlor helped make that happen.
For the sixth time in seven games, Columbia scored first. Milton Ramos started the third inning with a walk, moved to second when Vinny Siena drew a free pass and scored after David Thompson singled to centerfield.
Rome (2-4) tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Lucas Herbert singled in a run, and then added another in the following frame. The Fireflies trailed 2-1 heading to the sixth.
With one out in the sixth, Thompson walked and reached second when Braves reliever Grayson Jones (L, 0-1) threw one to the backstop. Dash Winningham singled and plated his teammate to tie the score up. After another wild pitch, Winningham made his way to second and scored when Joe Tuschak laced a base hit to right field. It was the second straight night Tuschak drove in the go-ahead run.
Missigman and Palsha then fanned six batters over the remaining three innings to close out the sweep.
Columbia returns home to officially christen Spirit Communications Park with the home openernight at against the Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox). Lefty P.J. Conlon (0-0, 1.93) faces Drive southpaw Logan Boyd (1-0, 3.60)