Early Defensive Struggles Doom Squirrels Late
Richmond, VA – The Reading Fightin Phils (8-3) jumped out early and defeated the Richmond Flying Squirrels (7-5), 7-4, on Monday night at The Diamond. The loss snapped a three-game win-streak for Richmond.
Reading, aided by two Richmond defensive miscues, got started quickly in the top of the first inning. With one out, Zach Collier bunted towards the mound. Left-hander Jack Snodgrass fumbled the baseball, and his error allowed Collier to reach safely. Former Squirrels’ catcher Tommy Joseph then cracked a single through the left side of the infield. Cam Perkins followed and sent a ground ball to third base. Ricky Oropesa fielded the ball cleanly and recorded an out at third base, but threw wildly to first base attempting to complete the double play. That error allowed the runners to move up to second and third base. Brock Stassi knocked them both in for a 2-0 lead with a single to right field. Both runs were unearned against Snodgrass.
The Fightins tacked on an additional run against Snodgrass in the second inning. The lefty issued a one-out walk to Edgar Duran. He was bunted to second base and scored when Cesar Hernandez singled back through the middle.
After going quietly against right-hander Severino Gonzalez in the first two innings, the Squirrels got on the board for the first time in the third inning. Brett Krill got Richmond going when he led off and ripped a double through the alley in left-center field. Snodgrass followed and attempted to lay down a sacrifice-bunt. Instead he bunted for a single with Krill moving to third base. Tyler Graham knocked him in with a sacrifice-fly to right-center field to cut the Reading lead to 3-1.
The Squirrels pulled even in the ballgame in the fourth inning. Gonzalez created his own problems with back-to-back one-out walks issued to Angel Villalona and Myles Schroder. Ricky Oropesa followed and singled to right field to bring home a run. Brett Krill then singled on the infield to bring home Schroder with the tying run. It marked the sixth consecutive plate appearance in which Krill had reached base (5-5, BB).
On a limited pitch count, Snodgrass worked just four innings. He didn’t factor in the decision, allowing three runs – one earned - on four hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Reading snatched the lead right back in the top of the fifth inning against left-hander Phil McCormick. Hernandez drew a lead-off walk and Collier followed with a double to left field to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Joseph knocked in a run with a ground out and Perkins stretched the newfound Reading lead with a two-run home run to left field. Perkins’ first of the year made it, 6-3, in favor of the Fightins.
Gonzalez (2-0) retired to the win after five innings. He surrendered three earned runs on six hits, walked three and struck out four. McCormick (0-2) was saddled with the loss for the Squirrels, which he took over three innings.
Schroder got Richmond started against Gonzalez’s successor, lefty Austin Wright, in the bottom of the sixth inning when he singled. He eventually wound up at third base after the hit when Anthony Hewitt misplayed the ball in left field. Oropesa knocked him in with a ground out to pull the Squirrels within a pair, 6-4.
The Squirrels got no closer as Wright returned to work a scoreless seventh inning. Lefty Jay Johnson and right-hander Kenny Giles took it the rest of the way with Johnson handling the eighth and Giles striking out the side in the ninth. Giles earned his fifth save of the season.
The Fightins capped the scoring with an insurance run plated in the ninth inning.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday night at The Diamond. Richmond LHP Ty Blach (1-1, 2.45) will make the start against Reading RHP Brody Colvin (0-0, 0.00). Pregame coverage will begin at 6:05 p.m. on SportsRadio910.com.