P.J. Conlon’s sensational start to 2016 continuednight after the lefty's third scoreless outing of the season helped Columbia down Rome, 3-1. Conlon fanned seven batters over 6.2 innings and now has a minuscule 1.04 ERA and a league-best 6-0 record.
The first five innings were scoreless — Fireflies and Braves hitters managed just two combined hits. Mike Soroka (L, 1-4) was brilliant as well for Rome (14-24) before he ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth. Jose Garcia and Vicente Lupo started the frame off with back-to-back singles. Then Vinny Siena’s sacrifice bunt moved the two into scoring position. J.C. Rodriguez tapped a roller up the first-base line that was fielded by Soroka; the right-handed pitcher flipped the baseball to first to retire Rodriguez, but Garcia scored from third.
David Thompson and Dash Winningham then drilled back-to-back extra-base hits that each plated a run, and Columbia (20-18) went up 3-0.
Conlon was relieved in the bottom of the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs. Flame-throwing righty Tyler Bashlor came out of the bullpen and struck out Bradley Keller, leaving the bases full.
Alex Palsha (S, 5) mimicked his teammate in the eighth. The righty entered the game, once more, with the bases loaded and induced a fly ball to left field off of Jonathan Morales’ bat. Ray-Patrick Didder tagged and scored from third, but Fireflies left fielder Vicente Lupo doubled up Luke Dykstra who crept too far off of the second-base bag.
The rubber match of the series between Columbia and Rome isat Right-hander Thomas McIlraith (1-3, 4.86) toes the rubber for Manager Jose Leger and faces Braves righty Patrick Weigel (1-3, 3.23)