RICHMOND, VA – The Erie SeaWolves (40-38) stunned the Richmond Flying Squirrels (39-40), 10-9, walking off on back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning at Jerry Uht Park on Friday night. It marked the first win of the year for Erie over the Squirrels, as Richmond had won the first four meetings.
Leading 9-8 to the bottom of the ninth inning, the Squirrels called upon lefty Phil McCormick. Tyler Collins led off and blasted a solo-home run to right field to tie the ballgame. Luis Castillo followed Collins to the plate and shot a solo-home run just over the yellow home run indicator in left field. And just like that it was over, as the SeaWolves rushed out of the third-base dugout to celebrate the lightning-strike victory.
Ricky Oropesa blasted the Squirrels to an early lead when he launched a solo-home run to right field off Erie lefty Matt Crouse in the second inning. Andrew Susac followed and belted his own solo-home run to right-center field for a 2-0 lead. It marked the first time this season that the Squirrels boasted back-to-back home runs. They weren’t done in the inning as Jarrett Parker flushed a double into the right-center field alley. Crouse walked Ryan Lollis and Javier Herrera delivered his second single of the night to bring home Parker for a 3-0 lead.
Richmond lefty Carlos Teller had little trouble with the Wolves in the first, but hit a rough patch in the second. With one out he hit Collins in the shoulder. Luis Castillo followed and drilled an RBI double off the center field wall. After an error allowed James Robbins to reach, Wade Gaynor lined an RBI single into left field. Gaynor’s single trimmed the Richmond lead to 3-2.
Teller avoided further damage in the second, and the Squirrels got one of the runs back in the third. Adam Duvall led off and cranked a double off the wall in left field. He advanced to third on fly out from Mark Minicozzi and scored on a single from Ehire Adrianza.
Teller sailed into the fifth inning, having retired the last eight batters. However, the wheels fell off for him as Erie chased him from the ballgame. He walked Jamie Johnson to start the frame, and an out later, issued a second walk to Hernan Perez. Michael Hernandez followed with an RBI double to cut the Richmond lead to a lone run. Teller was lifted in favor of righty Omar Javier, who entered to face James McCann. McCann promptly launched a three-run home run to left field to put Erie in front for the first time, 6-4.
Teller didn’t factor in the decision, charged with five earned runs on four hits over 4 1/3 innings. He walked two, hit two others and struck out four.
Crouse also received a no-decision, working five innings. He was charged with four runs on six hits, walked three and struck out two.
The lead was short-lived for the SeaWolves, as the Squirrels answered with four runs of their own against right-handed reliever Michael Morrison in the bottom of the sixth inning. They did all their damage with two outs in the inning. Parker sparked Richmond when he drew a walk. He then swiped second and came in on a single from Ryan Lollis. Herrera followed and drove a two-run home run to right-center field. Herrera’s 10th of the year put the Squirrels back in the lead, 7-6. Joe Panik then stepped in and drilled a solo-home run to right field. It marked the first time in franchise history that the Squirrels have gone back-to-back twice in the same game.
Javier remained in the game in the sixth inning and conceded a solo-home run to Eugenio Suarez that made it again a one-run game, 8-7. Lollis expanded the lead to two runs again in the seventh when tripled home Parker, who had again walked.
Right-hander Drew Bowlin walked in a run in the bottom of the seventh inning, pulling the SeaWolves back within a run and setting the stage for the ninth inning dramatics.
Lefty Will Startup (4-1) earned the win, having worked a scoreless eighth inning of relief. McCormick (3-5) took the loss for the Squirrels.
Game three of the four-game series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Jerry Uht Park on Saturday night. Richmond RHP Taylor Rogers (5-4, 5.61) will make the start against Erie RHP Patrick Cooper (2-5, 5.04). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin on Sports Radio 910, SportsRadio910.com and IHeart Radio at 6:35 p.m.
# SQUIRRELS #