RICHMOND, VA – The Richmond Flying Squirrels (21-21) walked 10 men in falling to the Trenton Thunder (23-21), 7-3, in the opener of a four-game series on Monday night at The Diamond. With the win, the Thunder improved to 6-2 on the year against the Squirrels.
The Squirrels tallied three runs against Thunder right-hander Mikey O’Brien in the top of the first inning. Jarrett Parker tapped a ball softly to the third-base side of the mound that O’Brien couldn’t play cleanly. Following the infield-single, O’Brien walked Joe Panik to put two aboard. Javier Herrera then blooped a soft-single into right field to load the bases. Mark Minicozzi then chopped a ball to the shortstop Ali Castillo that appeared to be a tailor-made double-play ball. However, it took a wicked hop over Castillo’s shoulder, and the bad-hop base hit produced two runs. Ryan Lollis then sent a ground ball to second base. The Thunder unsuccessfully attempted to turn two, and a third run scored to make it 3-0 Richmond. All the runs were earned against O’Brien.
Richmond starter Omar Javier retired the side in order on seven pitches in the first inning. The second inning went the completely opposite direction. Javier threw 36 pitches, walked three and allowed two runs on two hits in the frame. He was lifted after allowing an RBI single to Castillo and walking Ramon Flores to force in a run. Righty Jose Valdez came on to fly out Jose Pirela to strand the bases loaded and keep the Squirrels in the lead, 3-2.
Javier didn’t factor in the decision, lasting just 1 2/3 innings in his second start of the year. He was charged with two runs on two hits, walked three and struck out one.
The Thunder tied the ballgame with an additional run in the third inning against Valdez. With one out, J.R. Murphy singled into center field. Valdez then walked Kyle Roller and Slade Heathcott poked a single into right field to plate Murphy and knot the game, 3-3.
Trenton seized the lead for the first time with a second run off Valdez in the top of the fourth inning. Kevin Mahoney sparked the inning with a single and promptly stole second base. Valdez recovered to record the first two outs of the inning, but walked Tyler Austin with two outs. Murphy then cracked his second single of the night to plate Mahoney and push the Thunder in front, 4-3.
Valdez (1-2) surrendered two runs on four hits and a pair of walks. He took the loss in his second-longest outing of the season, his second setback of the year.
Left-hander Tom Vessella entered in the sixth inning for the Squirrels and also found immediate trouble. Flores greeted him with a single, and an out later, Austin singled. Another out later, Vessella walked Roller to load the bases with two outs. Heathcott then notched his third hit of the night – a single back through the middle. It brought in two runs to extend the Thunder lead to 6-3.
Trenton capped the scoring with an unearned run in the top of the seventh inning off of righty Scott Shuman. Shuman issued three walks in the inning, running the Squirrels total for the night to 10.
O’Brien (3-0) bounced back nicely from his first-inning troubles, allowing Richmond just one additional hit through the seventh inning. He earned the win after allowing three runs on four total hits. He walked two and struck out three. Lefty Aaron Dott and righty Danny Burawa took it the rest of the way without incident.
Game two of the four-game series is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at The Diamond on Tuesday night. Richmond LHP Carlos Teller (0-0, 0.00) will make the start against Trenton LHP Matt Tracy (4-3, 7.50). Pregame coverage begins on Sports Radio 910, SportsRadio910.com and IHeart Radio at 6:05 p.m.
# SQUIRRELS #