HICKORY, NC – The first two games in the series between Columbia and Hickory featured plenty of offense and Saturday night was no exception. After 17 combined runs and 24 hits, Hickory scored the winner in the bottom of the 10th to secure a 9-8 victory. Both Ali Sanchez and Gene Cone knocked in three runs at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The two squads mashed four more home runs on Saturday night, too. That was on the heels of four that left the yard on Friday. Factoring in Desmond Lindsay's blast on Thursday, that's now nine long balls in the three-game series.
Columbia (12-12) had the lead early in the game. After being added to the roster earlier in the day, 18-year-old shortstop prospect Andres Gimenez was slotted second in the batting order and crushed a solo home run in his first at-bat in the first inning. The Fireflies' lead grew to 3-0 in the next frame when Cone drilled a double into the left-center field gap. That hit plated Lindsay and Milton Ramos.
Hickory belted two solo homers in the bottom of the second to inch back within a run, but the visitors answered in the fourth. After Jay Jabs and Lindsay both reached safely, a passed ball by catcher Alex Kowalczyk enabled the pair to move into scoring position. Sanchez's groundout scored Jabs and then Ramos doubled home Lindsay. Columbia led, 5-2.
Yanio Perez crushed his second dinger of the night in the bottom half of the fourth, tying the score at 5-5. Hickory (9-14) took its first lead of the game with two more runs in the following frame.
The Fireflies then exploded for three in the sixth. The first three batters reached safely and Sanchez drove in a pair with a base hit. Two hitters later, Cone knocked in one more and the visitors were ahead, 8-7.
The Crawdads forced extras with a run in the bottom of the ninth and Preston Scott drove in Perez with a double in the 10th to seal the win.
The series finale between the Fireflies and Crawdads is Sunday at 3:00 p.m. from L.P. Frans Stadium. Right-handed ace Jordan Humphreys (4-0, 1.42) starts for the Fireflies and faces righty Demarcus Evans (0-2, 2.79) for the Crawdads.
You can catch the action on ESPN Columbia 94.9 FM and 1230 AM, ColumbiaFireflies.com and the TuneIn Radio app starting at 2:45 p.m.