The Fireflies held off a furious Greenville rally in the late inningsto win, 7-6, at Fluor Field. For the second straight series against the Drive, Columbia (18-14) won three of four from its Southern Division rival and also finished the road trip with a 5-2 record.
P.J. Conlon (W, 5-0) dazzled for a sixth straight start. He tossed 6.2 innings, allowed just one unearned run and struck out six. His ERA is a scintillating 1.23 and has won five in a row.
The Fireflies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second frame. With the bases loaded, Vicente Lupo drew a walk against Greenville (15-16) starter Anderson Espinoza (L, 2-3). The next batter, J.C. Rodriguez, lifted a fly ball into shallow right field that was caught by second baseman Luis Alejandro Basabe. Ivan Wilson tagged and scored from third base, catching the infielder off guard.
Lupo walked again with one out in the top of the fourth. Rodriguez then singled and Vinny Siena drew a free pass to load the bases once more. The next hitter was David Thompson. The Miami, Florida, native chopped a grounder to shortstop, where Jeremy Rivera attempted to turn two. Basabe’s throw from the second base bag was late to first, and Lupo trickled down the third-base line to score.Dash Winningham continued the inning when the lefty singled home Rodriguez. Later, Thompson was leading off of third when a Victor Diaz pitch flew to the backstop. When Thompson stomped on home plate, the Fireflies lead was 5-0.
Columbia wasn’t done scoring; the visitors added two more runs in the seventh to extend their lead to 7-0. Jeff Diehl drove in a run and Winningham – who had walked earlier in the frame – scored from third base when Austin Glorius balked.
The Drive made it interesting late, though. Mitch Gunsoles belted a grand slam in the seventh and Kyri Washington knocked in two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Alex Palsha (S, 4) dispelled the drama, and forced Austin Rei to ground out to end the ballgame. The righty picked up the save for a second straight night.