A pitchers’ duel unfolded at Spirit Communications Paray, but the Fireflies came up short in the battle. Columbia fell to the Asheville Tourists, 4-1, in game one of the four game series.
Thomas McIlraith (L, 1-3) recorded the longest outing by a Columbia (18-15) pitcher this season. The Texan muscled through seven and one third innings and struck out five batters.
The two teams were knotted at 0-0 after five innings. Asheville (15-16) broke through in the top of the sixth. Mylz Jones scorched a double down the left-field line. After Brendan Rogers grounded out to short to push Jones to third base, Brian Mundell ripped a bullet into left-center field. Fireflies center fielder Ivan Wilson made a tremendous, diving catch to rob Mundell of a hit. Jones, however, tagged up and scored the game’s first run to give Asheville a 1-0 lead.
The Fireflies responded in the last of the sixth. Kevin Kaczmarski, who appeared in his first game since April 20 at Spirit Communications Park, led off the inning with a walk. J.C. Rodriguez then singled to right. That set up Vinny Siena for a sacrifice bunt, which he pushed beautifully down the third-base line. With both runners in scoring position and just one man out, Asheville turned to right-hander Justin Lawrence (W, 1-3) out of the bullpen. His first pitch to David Thompson was a wild pitch that sailed up and inside. Kaczmarski hustled home to even the score at 1-1.
The contest remained tied going into the eighth, until the Tourists mashed three consecutive doubles to take a three-run lead. Asheville never looked back. The Tourists tallied seven hits, five of which were two-baggers.