Baseball

Gonzalez shines as Fireflies cruise past Lexington

Fireflies Pitcher Merandy Gonzalez (38) throws a pitch during the Fireflies game against the Lexington Legends.
Fireflies Pitcher Merandy Gonzalez (38) throws a pitch during the Fireflies game against the Lexington Legends. online@thestate.com

Merandy Gonzalez continues to show why he is one of the top prospects in the New York Mets organization. He pitched seven innings Friday night to lead the Fireflies to a 5-0 victory against Lexington in front of 5,896 fans at Spirit Communications Park.

The Dominican Republic native is the No. 17 ranked player in the Mets farm system and he’s off to a blazing start for Columbia. The right-hander extended his scoreless streak to 20 2/3 innings to open the season by allowing three hits with seven strikeouts and no walks against the Legends. In his three starts this season, he’s given up 10 hits with 18 strikeouts and one walk.

“His tempo and command of the strike zone has been excellent,” Columbia manager Jose Leger said. “He’s attacking the strike zone and keeping hitters off balance. The hitters are uncomfortable, and he’s working fast, so he’s given us three strong outings.”

Gonzalez allowed a single and stolen base to leadoff hitter Khalil Lee to open the game. Lee stole second and moved to third on a bunt back to Gonzalez but was stranded there. That was Lexington’s only chance to score off Gonzalez.

He allowed two-out singles in the second and fifth innings as he did not allow a runner past first base after the first inning.

It’s the fifth shutout for the season for the Fireflies (10-6).

“I have been able to pitch ahead in the count, and that gives me the advantage,” Gonzalez said through a translator. “I’ve done a good job of getting the first hitter out and that helps, too.”

Gonzalez got all the offense he would need in a three-run third inning. The Fireflies opened the frame with four straight hits, with the biggest blow being a two-run double from former Coastal Carolina standout Michael Paez.

Jose Medina later added an RBI single. Columbia had a chance to add to the lead, but Ali Sanchez ran through a stop sign at third base and was thrown out at the plate on a single by Gene Cone.

Paez finished 2-for-4 with a double, triple and two runs scored.

Cone, the former USC star, went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Tim Tebow went 3-for-3 after collecting three hits in 28 at-bats during his previous nine games. He raised his average to .208.

“I was glad to see us be aggressive,” Leger said. “We had a lot of good at-bats. I was pleased with the game on Thursday even though we got shut out. I thought we swung it well. We did the job with runners in scoring position by going 5-for-13.”

Lexington

ab

r

h

rbi

bb

k

Lee rf

4

0

1

0

0

2

Cancel 2b

4

0

0

0

0

1

Peterson dh

2

0

0

0

0

0

DeVito 1b

4

0

1

0

0

1

Rivera 3b

4

0

0

0

0

1

Viloria c

3

0

0

0

0

1

Fukofuka lf

3

0

1

0

0

1

Gasparini cf

3

0

1

0

0

1

Aracena ss

3

0

0

0

0

1

TOTALS

30

0

4

0

0

9

Columbia

ab

r

h

rbi

bb

k

Cone rf

3

1

2

0

1

0

Carpio 2b

4

1

1

0

0

0

Paez ss

4

2

2

2

0

1

Winningham 1b

4

0

0

1

0

1

Medina dh

4

0

2

1

0

0

Lindsay cf

4

1

1

0

0

1

Tebow lf

3

0

3

0

1

0

Ramos 3b

4

0

1

0

0

1

Sanchez c

3

0

0

0

0

1

TOTALS

33

5

12

4

2

5

Lexington

000

000

000

0

Columbia

003

010

01x

5

E — Aracena. DP — Lexington 2. LOB — Lexington 5, Columbia 7. 2B — Cone; Paez; Tebow; Lindsay. 3B — Paez. SH — Peterson; Sanchez. SB — Lee; Sanchez

Lexington

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Watson L, 0-3

4 1/3

10

4

4

1

2

McKay

1 2/3

0

0

0

1

1

Pinto

1

0

0

0

0

1

Veras

1

2

1

1

0

1

Columbia

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Gonzalez W, 3-0

7

3

0

0

0

7

Henry

2

1

0

0

0

2

PB — Viloria. HBP — Peterson (by Henry). Umpires — HP: John Benken. 1B: Reed Basner. T — 2:34. A — 5,896.

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