READING, PA – The Richmond Flying Squirrels (36-36) built an early lead and then held off the Reading Fightins (31-42), 6-5, at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday night. The Squirrels snapped a three-game skid with the win, and set up a rubber-game situation in game three on Sunday.
Reading lefty Austin Wright walked Travious Relaford to start the ballgame, and the Squirrels used the opening to score three times. Joe Panik followed with a single and Mark Minicozzi reached on an error to load the bases with nobody out. An out later, Andrew Susac drilled a two-run double into the left-field corner for a 2-0 lead. Ricky Oropesa capped the scoring with an RBI groundout, and Richmond held a 3-0 lead after a half-inning.
Susac faced Wright again in the third inning, and added a run to the Squirrels lead. He launched a 3-2 fastball over the wall in left field. His second home run of the series - and ninth of the season - put Richmond in front, 4-0.
Richmond lefty Jack Snodgrass mowed down the first six batters of the ballgame. However, the seventh put Reading on the board for the first time. Anthony Hewitt led off the third inning and clobbered a solo-home run to left field. It marked the second consecutive meeting between Hewitt and Snodgrass that Hewitt had homered. His sixth of the season trimmed the Richmond lead to 4-1.
The Squirrels got the run back quickly in the fourth. Wright issued his fourth walk of the ballgame, putting Snodgrass aboard to start the inning. Relaford bunted him to second base and Panik rifled a double through the alley in right-center field for a 5-1 lead.
The Fightins crept a run closer in the fifth inning after Snodgrass hit Zach Collier with one out in the inning. Collier advanced to second base on a groundout, and came around to score on a single from Tyson Gillies.
Once again Richmond got the run right back, tacking on their final tally against Wright in the top of the sixth inning. Relaford singled to open the frame and Panik roped his third hit of the night into the alley in right-center. The double – Panik’s second – singled the end of the night for Wright. Righty Hector Neris came on and Minicozzi lofted a sacrifice fly into left-center to bring in Relaford for a 6-2 lead.
After a strong showing into the seventh inning, Snodgrass’ night ended unceremoniously as the Fightins made the game tense. Snodgrass conceded singles to Sebastian Valle and Collier with one out in the inning. Hewitt then clubbed his second home run of the night off Snodgrass. The three-run shot to left field made it a one-run game favoring the Squirrels, 6-5.
Snodgrass (6-3) earned the win, working 6 2/3 innings. He was charged with five earned runs on six hits, walked none and struck out a season-high six. Wright (2-4) was tagged with the loss over 5 1/3 innings. He permitted six runs – five earned – on eight hits. He walked four and struck out four.
Right-hander Drew Bowlin was tremendous in relief of Snodgrass, working two innings of perfect relief to bridge the game to the final out. Righty Edwin Quirarte recorded that out to earn his fifth save of the season.
The finale of the three-game weekend series is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday night. Richmond LHP Carlos Teller (1-2, 2.05) will make the start against Reading RHP Seth Rosin (4-4, 3.99). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin on Sports Radio 910, SportsRadio910.com and IHeart Radio at 1:05 p.m.
# SQUIRRELS #