ASHEVILLE, NC – The Asheville Tourists entered play Wednesday night just 2.0 games ahead of second-place Augusta for the final playoff spot in the South Atlantic League, desperately searching for a victory over Lexington. Tied at 2-2 in the eighth, Jimmy Cesario led off the bottom of the inning with a solo homerun to open the floodgates for a four-run inning, lifting the Tourists to a 6-2 win.
Carlos Luna made his third start for the Tourists and pitched 5.2 great innings, the longest start of his career. Luna looked sharp through three shutout frames before allowing a run in the top of the fourth to put Lexington ahead, 1-0.
The Tourists tied it up at 1-1 in the fifth on an RBI single for Scott Robinson that plated Ryan Peisel. Luna came out for the sixth inning and allowed a leadoff walk before a sacrifice bunt put a runner on second with one out. Luna struck out Eric Suttle for the second out before Jay Austin drove his second of two doubles to the gap in left-center. The double scored the go-ahead run for Lexington and Luna was chased from the game. Stephen Dodson came on with runners on the corners and retired the side with no further damage.
Asheville tied the game again in their half of the sixth inning, scoring a two-out run. After the first two batters of the inning were set down, Kiel Roling singled to left field and Mike Zuanich followed with a two-bagger that nearly cleared the tall scoreboard in right-center, scoring Roling to make it 2-2.
The score remained locked at 2-2 going into the eighth, setting the table for Cesario’s dramatic homerun, his 11th of the season and his sixth in his last 16 games. After a Jordan Pacheco groundout, Roling doubled and Delta Cleary, Jr. was walked to set up a two-run triple off the bat of David Christensen to make it 5-2 Asheville. Thomas Field would drive Christensen home with an infield base hit to put the Tourists up 6-2.
Adam Jorgenson came on and worked a perfect ninth inning in a non-save situation, striking out one batter.
The Tourists (40-24) have now whittled their Magic Number to three with five games remaining. They will face the Legends (28-37) in the finale of this three-game series Thursday night at 7:05 for the last regular season home game of the year. RHP Juan Nicasio (8-3, 2.41) will take the mound for Asheville against Lexington LHP David Duncan (4-3, 4.24). Tickets for Thursday’s game and the 2009 Playoffs are available by contacting the McCormick Field Box Office at (828) 258-0428. All 140 Tourists games can be heard live on the radio on 100.7 WRES FM or streaming online at www.theashevilletourists.com.