After erasing two separate deficits in the eighth and ninth innings, the Fireflies walked off against Asheville in the bottom of the tenth, winning the series finale, 5-4. It was the first walk-off win of the season for Columbia.
Tourists reliever Alex Kenilvort (L, 0-1) took the mound for the start of the tenth and walked Vinny Siena. J.C. Rodriguez stepped to the plate and crushed a pitch off the top of the right-center field wall. Siena whizzed around third and scored the game-winning run to give Columbia (19-17) its first extra-inning victory as well. Rodriguez was drenched with water and mobbed by his teammates afterward near third base.
In addition to the triple, Rodriguez also walked twicay, stretching his on-base streak to 17 straight games.
Just to reach extra innings, the home team had to rally twice in the eighth and ninth. The Fireflies trailed, 3-1, when David Thompson led off the bottom of the eighth. Justin Lawrence plunked him, and then walked Jeff Diehl. Milton Ramos’ single loaded the bases for Ivan Wilson. The centerfielder bashed a base hit into left field that scored Thompson, cutting the deficit in half. Two batters later – with the bases still full –Kevin Kaczmarski drew a walk that plated Ramos to tie the score up at 3-3.
The resilient Tourists re-took a one-run lead in the top of the ninth thanks to Brian Mundell’s RBI single that scored Carlos Herrera.
Asheville (17-17) called on Sam Thoele – the South Atlantic League’s save leader – to close out the game in the ninth. The righty was 8-for-8 in save opportunities on the year. Two walks and a Jeff Diehl double later, Columbia loaded the bases once more. Wilson then drew another walk that pushed the tying run home and the game headed to extras. Fireflies hitters drew 12 walks and struck out just three timeay.
A bases-loaded walk – which happened three times for Manager Jose Leger’s team during the series finale – in the fourth is what gave the Fireflies a 1-0 lead. Thompson doubled to begin the frame and eventually scored from third base when Tyler Moore was issued a free pass.
Asheville later went up 2-1 in the fifth, and increased the lead to two runs after Herrera launched a home run in the seventh.
Alex Palsha (W, 2-1) pitched the ninth and tenth innings. The right-hander kept the game tied with a gutsy performance in the top of the tenth. The first two hitters he faced reached on an error and a fielder’s choice respectively. With Hamlet Marte and Sam Hilliard both in scoring position and nobody out, Palsha retired the next three batters in order.