READING, PA – The Reading Fightin Phils (31-41) tracked down the Richmond Flying Squirrels (35-36) and earned a series-opening, 5-3, victory at FirstEnergy Stadium on Friday night. The Squirrels have now lost 10 of their last 11 games including four straight to the last place Fightins.
Andrew Susac put the Squirrels in front in the top of the second inning. With one out, he blasted a solo-home run to center field off Reading righty David Buchanan. Susac’s eighth of the year snapped a nine-game homerless streak for the Squirrels and gave them a 1-0 lead.
Richmond right-hander Craig Westcott held the Fightins at bay through the first three innings. However, they tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out in the inning, Westcott hung a breaking ball to Maikel Franco. He launched a solo-home run to left field. His first Eastern League home run pulled the Fightins even.
The Squirrels hurriedly reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Ryan Lollis banked a double off the wall in left-center field. Westcott followed and cracked a double into right field. Lollis scored as the Squirrels went back ahead, 2-1. An out later, Joe Panik sent a ground ball to the second baseman, Albert Cartwright. He misplayed it, and the error allowed Westcott to stroll across for a 3-1 lead. The second run of the inning was unearned against Buchanan.
Things fell apart for Westcott in the sixth inning as he surrendered the lead to the Fightins. Jim Murphy led off and lined a solo-home run to left field. Westcott got the first two outs of the inning, but conceded a two-out single to Zach Collier. That allowed Tyson Gillies to come to the plate. He walloped a massive two-run home run to right field. His fifth of the year gave Reading their first lead of the ballgame, 4-3.
Both starters departed the ballgame after six innings. Westcott (3-7) was saddled with loss after allowing four earned runs on seven hits. The three home runs he surrendered were a season-high. He walked two and struck out four, falling for the seventh time on the year. Buchanan (4-7) earned the win, allowing three runs – two earned – on five hits. He walked one and struck out seven.
Left-hander Bobby Bramhall recorded four outs and righty Tyler Knigge took the ballgame the rest of the way. He was credited with his third save of the season over 1 2/3 innings.
Reading capped the scoring with a run in the eighth inning against right-hander Daryl Maday. John Suomi knocked in the run with a double into the left-field corner.
Game two of the three-game weekend series is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday night. Richmond LHP Jack Snodgrass (5-3, 2.43) will make the start against Reading LHP Austin Wright (2-3, 7.96). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin on Sports Radio 910, SportsRadio910.com and IHeart Radio at 6:05 p.m.
# SQUIRRELS #