Fireflies Game Notes: Opening Night vs. Augusta (Game 1)


Columbia Fireflies (0-0) vs. Augusta GreenJackets (0-0)

RHP Harol Gonzalez (7-3, 2.01 - Brooklyn) vs. LHP Domenic Mazza (8-3, 3.93 - Augusta)

Thursday, April 6, 2017 — Spirit Communications Park — First Pitch 7:05 p.m. — Game 1

LISTEN: ESPN Columbia 94.9 FM & 1230 AM / ColumbiaFireflies.com / TuneIn Radio App

            Professional baseball officially returned to Columbia for the first time in over 11 years when the first pitch in Spirit Communications Park history was hurled on April 14, 2016. The $37 million-dollar palace saw 261,134 fans push through the gates in 2016, a record for a Columbia professional baseball organization.
            Spirit Communications Park was quickly recognized nationally for its magnificence by two leading baseball publications. Ballpark Digest named the Fireflies’ home the 2016 Ballpark of the Year and Stadium Journey rated it as the best ballpark experience in the South
            The Fireflies were piloted by 2015 South Atlantic League Manager of the Year, Jose Leger. The first victory of the season – and in franchise history – was a no-hitter against Charleston on April 9. Thomas McIlraith, Alex Palsha and Johnny Magliozzi combined to blank the RiverDogs, 9-0.
            It was the first of many on-field achievements Fireflies fans had a front-row seat for in 2016. Palsha and three other Fireflies – P.J. Conlon, Vinny Siena and David Thompson – were all named South Atlantic League Mid-Season All-Stars before their promotions to the Mets’ advanced-A affiliate in St. Lucie, Florida.
            Conlon’s 2016 season was so successful, he was named the New York Mets Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The Placentia, California, native’s 1.65 ERA (in 23 starts) wasn’t just the lowest among Mets minor leaguers, it was the best in Minor League Baseball. Conlon also finished with a 12-2 record (12 appearances in Columbia, 12 in St. Lucie) – at one point winning seven consecutive starts from April 14-May 23 during his time with the Fireflies.
            Thompson garnered Columbia’s Sterling Award – an honor the Mets present to their best prospect at each minor-league level. Following Conlon’s lead, Thompson ended 2016 with an organization-best 95 RBIs.
            Despite 13 different players landing on the disabled list at some point in 2016, the Fireflies still completed the year with a 67-73 overall mark – going 36-34 in the first half and 31-39 in the second.
            Conlon and Thompson weren’t the only to dazzle at Spirit Communications Park. One of the finest individual performances of the season occurred on July 16 in Columbia. The Mets’ 2013 second-round selection, Andrew Church, tossed the first complete-game shutout in franchise history. The 21-year-old allowed just one hit and struck out 10 Rome Braves hitters. In nine Columbia starts, the righty went 5-2 with a 2.22 ERA and later was elevated by the Mets to as high as triple-A (Las Vegas). 
            If Church’s marvelous day wasn’t enough, outfielder Enmanuel Zabala shined on August 22 with a 5-for-5 evening at the plate – once more becoming the first Firefly to record five hits in a game.
            Catcher Patrick Mazeika led the team with a .305 batting average in 70 games. His on-base percentage (.414) was best in the league among hitters with 250 or more plate appearances. 20-year-old first baseman Dash Winningham paced the club in the power department with 12 home runs, 31 doubles and 69 RBIs.
            Kevin Canelon (6-11, 3.64), Chase Ingram (8-9, 4.60) and Joe Shaw (8-9, 4.46) led the Fireflies on the mound – all starting more than 23 games.


Thomas Brennan said...

Expecting a great start out of Harol Gonzalez

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