After running into the brick wall known as the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees), the Columbus Catfish continued to dominate a team they've mastered all season long. Opening the last road trip of the first half, the Catfish beat the Rome Braves 9-2.
It was all Catfish in a turnaround from the last time Jeremy Hellickson faced off on the mound against Tommy Hanson. On June 5, Hanson lost a 1-hitter, 1-0. Tonight, Hellickson allowed just one hit, but got run support from the Catfish batters.
In the 3rd inning, 1B Matthew Fields homered over the wall in left to put the Catfish up 1-0.
With 2 outs in the 4th, the Catfish offense came alive. C Nevin Ashley singled, and stole second. LF Ryan Royster walked. Then, DH Quinn Stewart homered to center, putting the Catfish up 4-0 and chasing Hanson from the game. Fields greeted Rome reliever Michael Broadway with a double to right. 2B Joey Callender followed with an RBI single, making it 5-0.
In the bottom of the 6th, Rome finally got a hit off Hellickson, but the 1-out single did not damage, and Hellickson completed 6 innings, up 5-0.
The Catfish offense upped his margin to 9-0 in the top of the 7th. With 1 out, SS Jairo De La Rosa singled, advanced to second on a botched pickoff attempt, then stole third. CF Desmond Jennings singled him home, and went to second on a walk by RF John Matulia. 3B Cesar Suarez hit his team-leading 19th double, scoring Jennings. Ashley sacrificed Matulia home, moving Suarez to third. After another pitching change, Royster singled in Suarez, making it 9-0.
Rome finally got on the board in the bottom of the 7th, scoring 2 runs off Catfish reliever Neal Frontz. Frontz settled down and kept Rome off the board the rest of the way.
Hellickson picked up his 4th win of the season, allowing just one hit in 6 innings work, striking out 5 along the way. His ERA is down to 1.93, second best on the team and 4th best in the league. Frontz pitched 3 innings relief, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out3, to pick up his team-leading 10th save.
The win pulls the Catfish into a virtual tie for 2nd, 5-1/2 games behind division-leading Augusta. The Catfish need a sweep of Rome and Greenville, and a virtual collapse of Augusta to have a shot at the first-half title.
The series with Rome continues Tuesday night.