The Columbus Catfish won in their last at-bat again Monday night. A 2-run single by DH Matt Spring plated the tying and go-ahead run in the bottom of the 8th inning, as the Catfish beat the Rome Braves 6-5. It was the 6th time this season that the Catfish beat Rome in their last at-bat.
Rome scored a run in the 4th, and the Catfish responded in the bottom of the inning. CF John Matulia singled, then 3B Cesar Suarez hit a ground ball to the first baseman, who tried to turn a double play. Matulia beat the throw to second, then the shortstop threw wild back to first. Matulia made it to third on the throw. After C Nevin Ashley walked, LF Ryan Royster drove in Matulia on a sacrifice fly to center field, tying the game at 1. When DH Matt Spring singled, Suarez tried to score from second, but was thrown out at the plate.
P Woods Fines ran into trouble in the 5th. A walk, a single, and 3 doubles scored 3 runs for Rome before Wilton Noel came in to relieve Fines. A ground-out to short scored another run before the Catfish got out of the inning, trailing 5-1.
Things began to look better in the bottom of the 5th. 2B Joey Callender doubled to lead the inning. With 1 out, LF Maiko Loyola walked, then Matulia singled to lead the bases. Suarez hit what should have been a single to right, but the ball took an odd hop, and Suarez had a 3-run triple. When the throw from right to third went wide, Suarez tried to score, but was thrown out at home. Still, the Catfish had narrowed the score to 5-4.
Noel was masterful in keeping Rome off the scoreboard. He allowed a 1-out single in the 6th, and a batter reached on an error in the 8th. And that set the stage for the Catfish win.
With 1 out, Suarez walked, then Ashley singled. Both took an extra base when the center fielder missed the cutoff man on the throw back to the infield. After Royster was intentionally walked, Rome changed pitchers. That's when Spring hit his 2-run single right, putting the Catfish up 6-5.
Neal Frontz pitched a perfect 9th to pick up his 5th save.
Callendar, Spring, and Matulia each had 2 hits for the Catfish.
The win was the Catfish 6th in a row, the current longest streak in the South Atlantic League. It was also their 11th win in their last 12 games. It's also the 10th time in 11 games the Catfish have beaten Rome. Tuesday's game gives the Catfish the chance to sweep Rome for the second time this season.
With the win, the Catfish are a game and a half out of first place. And, for the first time this season, Augusta isn't in first place. Their loss to Greenville, coupled with Asheville's win over Charleston, puts the Tourists (Rockies) in first place in the division. The Catfish and Asheville don't play again in the first half.