The first place Columbus Catfish -- I like typing that -- extended their 2nd half lead in the Northern Division by beating the 2nd place Asheville Tourists (Rockies) 5-3 Thursday night.
The Catfish put up 4 runs in the 3rd. Matthew Fields led with a single. Craig Albernaz, Jairo De La Rosa and John Matulia all doubled, putting the Catfish up 3-0. After a pitching change, Brett Grandstrand sacrificed Matulia to third, then Cesar Suarez sacrificed Matulia home, giving the Catfish a 4-0 lead.
De La Rosa hit a solo home run in the 5th, making it 5-0.
The Catfish only had 5 hits, but made the most of their time on base. One runner was caught stealing, but the other 5 base runners scored. The only Catfish batter with more than 1 hit was De La Rosa, who had 2 RBIs and scored twice.
Woods fines picked up his 7th win, allowing 2 hits and striking out a pair over 5 innings. Matt Falk only lasted 1/3 inning relief, allowing 3 runs, his 2nd straight rough outing. Hunter Davis pitched 2-2/3 innings, allowed just 1 hit, and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the 7th. Columbus native Brian Baker pitched a perfect 9th, picking up his 7th save, and extending his scoreless streak to 21-2/3 innings.
The win over 2nd place Asheville -- who has already begun selling playoff tickets for the playoff spot they are battling the Catfish for -- gives the Catfish a 1-1/2 game lead over the Tourists. Idle Charleston is 3 games back.
The battle for first place continues Friday night, with the top two teams battling at 7 PM. Fireworks follow.