RICHMOND, VA – The Richmond Flying Squirrels (14-15) posted a season-high 15 runs to shell the Trenton Thunder (16-13), 15-8, in front of 6,762 at The Diamond on Saturday night. The win was the first for the Squirrels against the Thunder this season after dropping the first five meetings of the year between the two clubs.
Trenton jumped out front in the first inning against Richmond lefty Chris Gloor. With one out, Jose Pirela singled into left field. Tyler Austin then singled into center field. Pirela advanced to third base when Ryan Lollis bobbled the ball in center. He scored for a 1-0 lead when J.R. Murphy lofted a sacrifice fly deep into right field.
Richmond answered in bizarre fashion in the bottom of the first inning against Trenton left-hander Francisco Rondon. Javier Herrera led off and reached on an error on first baseman Casey Stevenson. Herrera moved to second base when Joe Panik grounded out. Mark Minicozzi then struck out on a pitch in the dirt. Herrera broke for third and Murphy, the Thunder catcher, threw to third unsuccessfully as Minicozzi reached at first base. Andrew Susac followed and pulled a double just fair up the third-base line and Herrera came in to tie the ballgame, 1-1. An out later, Brett Krill sent a single bouncing into center field. Minicozzi and Susac both scored for a 3-1 Richmond advantage. All three runs in the inning charged to Rondon were unearned.
The Thunder got an unearned run back to close within a run in the third. Pirela reached on an inning-opening error on Panik. Pirela moved to second on a bounce out and scored for the second time in the ballgame when Murphy singled.
The Squirrels immediately responded once again, plating two more against Rondon in the bottom of the third. An error opened the door again, as Susac started the frame by reaching on an error on shortstop Reegie Corona. A two-out walk to Krill allowed Jarrett Parker to bat. He delivered a two-run double to deep left field to extend the Squirrels’ lead to 5-2.
Richmond briefly lost the lead in the top of the fourth inning. With Ramon Flores aboard and one out, Pirela tripled off the wall in center field. Austin followed with a two-run home run to left field that tied the ballgame, 5-5.
For the third time, the Squirrels answered back in a hurry. And the third time was the most emphatic. Richmond grabbed ahold of the ballgame with five runs to finally knock Rondon from the ballgame. Travious Relaford started the inning and took a walk from Rondon. Lollis singled into right to put two aboard and Herrera worked an 11-pitch walk to load the bases. Panik flew out, but with Minicozzi batting, Relaford scored on a wild pitch. Minicozzi then stung a two-run double into the right-field corner. An out later, Ricky Oropesa punctuated the uprising with a massive two-run home run to right field. Oropesa’s second home run of the season gave Richmond a 10-5 lead.
Oropesa’s blast also chased Rondon (2-2), as he departed to the loss over 3 2/3 innings. He was tagged for 10 runs – five earned – on six hits. He walked three and struck out three, suffering his second loss of the year.
Gloor (1-1) worked five innings for his first victory of the season. He surrendered five runs – four earned – on eight hits. He walked one and struck out a season-high seven batters.
Richmond lefty Tom Vessella balked in a run in the top of the sixth inning, leading to the ejection of Squirrels manager Dave Machemer. His departure ignited the Squirrels, as they once against immediately answered at the plate. Herrera doubled to start the inning and Panik followed with a single. After Panik swiped second base, Minicozzi laced his second two-run double of the night. The shot through the alley in right-center put the Squirrels in front, 15-6.
Parker capped the scoring for the Squirrels when he tripled to score two more Richmond runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The final five runs scored by the Squirrels were charged to Trenton lefty Shaeffer Hall. The Thunder picked up two runs in the top of the ninth inning to alter the final margin. Vessella and right-hander Jose Valdez combined to finish the ballgame in relief for Richmond.
Minicozzi and Parker each finished with four RBIs in the ballgame, while three Squirrels (Herrera, Minicozzi, Susac) each scored three runs. In addition to the setting a season-high for runs, the Squirrels also established a season-high for hits (14).
The finale of the three-game series with the Trenton Thunder (New York Yankees) is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. at The Diamond on Sunday afternoon. Richmond RHP Justin Fitzgerald (2-0, 1.38) will make the start against Trenton RHP Caleb Cotham (1-1, 4.30). Pregame coverage begins on Sports Radio 910, SportsRadio910.com and IHeart Radio at 1:35 p.m.
# SQUIRRELS #