COLUMBIA, SC – Andrew Church delivered in a big way on Saturday night for the Fireflies. The right-handed starter pitched a complete-game, one-hit shutout and led Columbia to victory, 4-0, over Rome. The win ended an eight-game losing streak.
Church (W, 3-0) got run support early, as the home team hopped out in front in the bottom of the first inning. After Tucker Tharp singled, Vicente Lupo smacked a run-scoring double to left-center field off of Rome (10-13, 37-55) starter Touki Toussaint (L, 2-6).
Lupo was at it again in the third frame. The Venezuelan outfielder blasted his second home run of the season over the left-field wall onto the concourse. In 19 games played during the second half of the season, Lupo is hitting .333 (20-for-60) and has driven in 14 runs.
Columbia (6-17, 42-51) added another run in the fourth. Luis Ortega walked and stole second base. Then Tyler Moore smoked a single to left field on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. The Fireflies held a 3-0 advantage.
That was plenty for Church. Following the first inning, the righty from Las Vegas, Nevada, set down 23 of the last 25 batters – including the final 11 hitters in a row. Church struck out a career-high 10 and earned the first complete-game shutout in franchise history. He improved to 3-0 in a Fireflies uniform and lowered his ERA to 0.42.
For good measure, lefty-bat Eudor Garcia pounded an opposite-field home run in the eighth. The solo shot was Garcia's first of the 2016 season.
Game three of the series between Columbia and Rome is at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday. The Fireflies send Kevin Canelon (5-7, 3.13) to the hill. The lefty battles Braves southpaw Ricardo Sanchez (5-7, 5.78).