ASHEVILLE, NC – The Tourists welcomed the Greenville Drive, champions of the Southern Division of the South Atlantic League for the first half of the season, for four games to begin the second half, winning a thriller Thursday night, 5-4. Jordan Pacheco blasted his eighth homerun of the year and Tyler Massey provided a huge two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Tourists the lead for good. Asheville now has a record above .500 for the first time this season.
Greenville grabbed the lead right away on a solo homerun from Ryan Lavarnway, his eighth of the year, in the top of the first inning.
The Tourists answered right back in the bottom of the inning when Jimmy Cesario picked up an infield hit with one out, and Pacheco demolished a two-run shot over the tall wall in right-center field, giving Asheville a 2-1 lead.
The Drive came back with two runs of their own in the top of the second inning, banging out three consecutive one-out doubles. Oscar Tejeda and David Marks provided RBI two-baggers, putting Greenville ahead, 3-2.
Asheville drew even in the bottom of the third when Scott Robinson led off with a double down the left field line. Jimmy Cesario laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that almost went for a hit, but Cesario was thrown out by a half step at first. Jordan Pacheco then followed by lifting a fly ball into left field, just deep enough to score Robinson from third. The sac fly was Pacheco’s third RBI of the game, and it tied the game at 3-3.
The score remained locked at 3-3 until the seventh frame, as Asheville starter Ethan Hollingsworth overcame some early trouble to keep the Tourists in the game. The righty went 6.1 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while striking out eight in the no-decision. He came on to start the seventh inning before allowing a one-out walk to Oscar Tejeda and another RBI double to David Marks. After Marks gave Greenville a 4-3 lead, Hollingsworth was replaced by Robinson Fabian, who worked 1.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
The Tourists came up in the bottom of the eighth trailing by a run against relief pitcher Felix Ventura. Cesario led things off with a base hit up the middle and took second on a passed ball by Lavarnway. After Pacheco grounded out to short for the first out, David Christensen picked up his second infield single of the game, putting runners on the corners. Greenville replaced Ventura with left-hander Lance McClain, but Christensen promptly stole second base to put runners on second and third, and Tyler Massey laced a two-run single into right field to give the Tourists a 5-4 lead.
Adam Jorgenson came on in the ninth and worked a scoreless inning to earn his eleventh save of the season.
The Tourists (1-0) and Drive (0-1) will meet again Friday night in game two of this four-game series. Asheville RHP Jonnathan Aristil (0-3, 4.95) will take the mound for game two, against Greenville LHP Nick Hagadone (0-1, 5.14). Tickets for Friday’s game and all Tourists home games are available by contacting the Tourists box office at (828) 258-0428. You can also listen to all 140 Asheville Tourists games live on 100.7 WRES FM or streaming online at www.theashevilletourists.com.