Tourists win opening home game

The Asheville Tourists’ first home game of the season kicked off with a bang last Thursday. Fans from the Asheville area packed McCormick Field as they watched the Tourists beat the Rome Braves 5-4 in extra innings.

“What a great game,” Tyler Leinbach, a Tourists fan, said. “And on opening night too? It’s great.”

The home opener win ended the Tourists’ five-game losing streak where they lost three out of four games against Greenville and got completely swept by Charleston.

“It’s been a slow start,” Leinbach said. “But after this big win, I think they’ll do well now.”

The Tourists had an early scare when they allowed three runs in the top of the first. Then Max Fried, Braves pitcher, had six shutout innings. The Tourists really started to fire back in the bottom of eighth inning when Mylz Jones hit a homerun and Yonathon Daza had two RBI’s to only trail by one.

In the last inning of regulation with Jonathan Piron on third base, Jones hit a pop-fly between second and third base. Surprisingly, both the Braves’ shortstop, Alejandro Salazar, and third baseman, Austin Riley,  missed the catch. Piron brought it home, pushing the game into extra innings.

In the bottom of the tenth inning shortstop, Max George had the game winning hit. While at bat with outfielder Sam Hilliard on third, George hit the ball far down leftfield, but it landed in fair territory, bringing Hilliard home and giving the Tourists a walk-off win.

“It feels nice,” George said. “Yeah, very good, very good.”

The Thirsty Thursday crowd couldn’t be happier, either. Fans 21 and older got to enjoy $1 beer specials while they watched the Tourists win the home opener.

“It was a good crowd,” Charles Wells, who was working security at the game, said. “We’ve had some problems over the years, but it’s very rare that we have a problem. The people are usually pretty good and tonight was no exception.”

Since their home opening win, the Tourists won two out of their four games against the Braves. Patrick Hardy, Tourists fan, still remains optimistic about the team’s overall season.

“I only hope for the best,” Hardy said. “We’re down now, but the season’s still in diapers.”