GREENVILLE, SC – Chris Viall, Darwin Ramos and Carlos Hernandez were just about unhittable on Monday night in Greenville. The trio punched out 17 Drive hitters – tying a single-game franchise record – and led Columbia to a 7-1 series-opening victory. The Fireflies have now won all four series openers to begin the year.
Columbia (7-4) previously struck out 17 Kannapolis Intimidators on June 22, 2017. Monday's game started with a good omen when Viall (W, 1-0) struck out the side in the first. Viall alone fanned 11, a new career-high for the right-hander. He allowed just two hits and one run en route to his first victory of the year.
The Fireflies now lead the league in strikeouts with 117 in 11 games.
Columbia wasted no time providing run support for its starter. Edgardo Fermin singled off of Alex Scherff (L, 0-2) in the first inning and moved to second when Blake Tiberi walked. Fermin then raced to third after Matt Winaker bounced into a double play. Moments later, the 19-year-old scored from third on a wild pitch.
Greenville (3-8) tied the score in the bottom of the fourth only to watch the visitors retake a lead the following frame. The three-run fifth was highlighted by Jay Jabs' RBI triple – the Pennsylvania native's first extra-base hit of the year. Jabs later scored on another wild pitch and Quinn Brodey knocked in the inning's third run.
Columbia's offense wasn't done in the eighth. After Brodey tripled to lead off the inning, Walter Rasquin ripped a two-run home run over the replica Green Monster in left to give the visitors a 6-1 advantage. It was Rasquin's first dinger of the year.
Winaker knocked in Columbia's seventh run in the top of the ninth with a single through the left side of the diamond.
All 10 Fireflies hitters reached base safely in Monday's game (including Tiberi and Jeremy Vasquez, who both increased their on-base streaks to 10 straight games). On the flip side, all nine Drive hitters struck out at least once.
Columbia faces Greenville again at Fluor Field on Tuesday night starting at 7:05 p.m. Righty Marcel Renteria is scheduled to toe the rubber against Drive southpaw Jhonathan Diaz. The Fireflies clinch their third straight series win with a victory on Tuesday.