Sunday, July 23, 2006

Grand Slam Propels Catfish. Again

For the second night in a row, a late-inning grand slam by Lucas May propelled the Columbus Catfish to a win over the Asheville Tourists (Rockies). Saturday night's blast provided the margin of victory as the Catfish took a 6-5 win and the series with Asheville, three games to one.

The Catfish fell behind early when Asheville CF led off the game with a walk, then scored on Catfish 1B Jason Mooneyham's throwing error. Despite the error, the run was considered an earned run against starter David Pfeiffer, thanks to Asheville LF Cole Garner's subsequent double.

Asheville scored again in the fifth, thanks to doubles by C Kyle Blumenthal and 2B Eric Young, Jr. In the sixth, facing Catfish reliever Jordan Pratt, Asheville punched across three more runs on Cole Garner's lead-off double. With one out, he advanced to third on a wild pitch. RF Daniel Carte doubled to score the first run. With two out, Kyle Blumenthal singled to drive in Carte. DH Florentino Nunez singled, then Dexter Fowler reached on a strike out/wild pitch to load the bases. Eric Young, Jr. singled, scoring Blumenthal, but the attack ended when Nunez was thrown out at home by Catfish 1B Jason Mooneyham. C Anthony Harper applied the tag for the third out.

In the seventh, the Catfish narrowed the gap. 3B Russell Mitchell singled to lead off the inning. With one out, LF Lucas May doubled, moving Mitchell to third. RF Chris Jensen then singled, scoring both Mitchell and May.

Catfish pitcher Jordan Pratt held set down the Tourists in order in the seventh, but was still doen 5-2 when he faced his last batter. He would get credit for the win when the Catfish took the lead in the eighth.

Facing new Asheville pitcher Jon George, Anthony Harper singled and DH Travis Denker walked. Russ Mitchell grounder to short left him at first and Harper at third. Jason Mooneyham was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That's when Asheville brought in pitcher Andrew Johnston to face Lucas May with one out. For the second night in a row, Lucas May greeted a new pitcher with a grand slam home run. The blast over the right field wall left the Catfish with a 6-5 lead.

In the seventh, Catfish reliever Matthew Gomez de Segura got Daniel Carte to fly out to center, but allowed 1B Christopher Cook to doubled. With the tying run on second, Kale Garrison came in to replace Gomez de Segura. Kyle Blumenthal grounded out to short, but Cook advanced to third. Phillip Cuadrado pinch hit for Florentino Nunez, and walked, representing the go-ahead run on first. Garrison got Dexter Fowler to ground to 3B Russ Mitchell to end the threat.

Ramon Troncoso, who had blown three straight save opportunities, made the most of this one. He got Eric Young, Jr. to ground out to second, SS Christopher Nelson to fly out to right, and LF Cole Garner to bounce one back to the mound to set the Tourists down in order, getting the save and securing Pratt's fifth win.

The win gave the Catfish the series with Asheville, and puts them all alone in third place. They remain eight games behind division-leading Augusta and four behind second-place Greenville, who also won. Augusta has won six in a row, and is 22-4 since June 26. Greenville has won 9 of 11, making it difficult for any team to gain on the leaders.

After a Sunday off, the Catfish open an eight-game home stand Monday, hosting the Hickory Crawdads then the Greensboro Grasshoppers. We're looking forward to seeing Greensboro, since one of the players we hosted last year, Dan Batz, is now playing for the Grasshoppers. It'll be great seeing him. The other player we hosted last year? Lucas May, the hero the last two nights for the Catfish. It's always a pleasure seeing him.

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