5/12/18

Columbia 8 - Hickory 3

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Press Release:

HICKORY, NC – Columbia was aiming to leave Hickory with a victory and that’s exactly what Manager Pedro Lopez’s team did on Friday night. The Fireflies avoided being swept and defeated the Crawdads, 8-3. Columbia had trailed until the fourth inning before it took a lead it wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the night. The Fireflies are back to two games above .500 (18-16) and snapped their three-game losing skid.

Every Fireflies hitter reached base safely on Friday at L.P. Frans Stadium. Quinn Brodey led the way again. Columbia’s centerfielder notched two more hits (one of which a double) and drove in a run. Brodey remains top three in the league in RBIs (25) and extra-base hits (17). As a team, the Fireflies bashed five extra-base hits on the night. Brodey is now hitting a remarkable .359 on the road this season.

Columbia had to dig out of an early hole, though. Miguel Aparicio drew a walk against starter Joe Cavallaro (W, 4-1) to lead off the home half of the first. He slide to second base after a ground out and later scored when Tyreque Reed drilled a base hit to left field.

The Crawdads then added to its lead in the next inning. Sam Huff slapped a home run over the left-field wall, and suddenly, the Fireflies trailed 2-0 after two.

Columbia’s offense could not remain quiet any longer once the fourth inning rolled around. Starter A.J. Alexy (L, 1-3) first allowed back-to-back base hits to Scott Manea and Giovanny Alfonzo. Then the switch-hitter Hansel Moreno (batting left-handed) ripped a line drive down to the right-field corner and plated both runners. Moreno would not sit at third for long. Raphael Gladu’s sharp single through the hole on the left side of the diamond allowed Moreno to score and give the visitors a 3-2 edge.

Matt Winaker felt as if the one-run lead wasn’t quite large enough. After a lengthy at-bat against righty reliever Joe Barlow, Winaker creamed his second homer of the year over the right-field wall. The Fireflies were up, 4-2, after four and a half innings.

Hickory (11-20) slashed the lead in half with a bottom of the fifth inning score. Austin O’Banion slugged a two-out RBI double and the home team was back within one.

The Fireflies later loaded the bases in the top of the seventh and cashed in. First, Manea drove a run in with a base hit and later on, Winaker scored on a wild pitch.

Columbia added two more in the next inning to build an 8-3 lead. Gladu kicked the inning off with a triple and scored on Quinn Brodey’s double off the right-center field wall. Jeremy Vasquez then singled into right and the lefty slugger’s base hit plated Brodey from second.  

The Fireflies pitchers were spectacular on Friday: the trio of righties struck out 14. Cavallaro brilliantly gutted through 5.2 innings and fanned seven. Stephen Villines then locked down and punched out six over just 2.1 frames. Trey Cobb finished the road series strong with a strikeout and a scoreless ninth to close out the win.

The nugget of the night feature Cavallaro: the Fireflies are 5-1 in games the Venice, Florida, native pitches in.

Columbia returns home on Saturday. The Fireflies begin a four-game series with the Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore Orioles) at 6:05 ET at Spirit Communications Park. It should be a stellar pitching matchup between Columbia’s southpaw Anthony Kay (1-1, 3.42) and Delmarva’s righty Gray Fenter (2-2, 4.73).

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