Late homer lifts Richmond
Mark Minicozzi’s three-run home run in the eighth inning allowed the Richmond Flying Squirrels (62-60) to stun the Akron Aeros (56-66), 4-3, in front of 6,203 at The Diamond on Wednesday night. Richmond has now won 13 of their last 15 ballgames to surge within 2 ½ games of the Western Division lead.
The Aeros held a 3-0 lead to the bottom of the eighth inning and brought on hard throwing right-hander Austin Adams in relief. He issued back-to-back walks to Kelby Tomlinson and Ryan Lollis to open the inning, setting the table for the Squirrels. Joe Panik followed with a single to load the bases with nobody out. Javier Herrera brought home the first run of the evening with a sacrifice fly to right field. That brought up Minicozzi, who decked an Adams fastball over the center field wall. Minicozzi’s ninth home run of the season stood up as the game-winner.
Right-handers Craig Westcott and Will Roberts battled in the early portion of the ballgame. Westcott blinked first in the fourth as the Aeros grabbed a 1-0 lead. With one out, Cedric Hunter singled. Westcott uncorked a pair of wild pitches, advancing Hunter to third base. Jesus Aguilar brought him in with a sacrifice fly to center field. Aguilar notched his league-leading 91st RBI of the season.
Westcott worked into the sixth inning where he allowed a one-out single to Matt Lawson. He recorded the second out, but Aguilar laced a single to put two aboard. Westcott then walked Tyler Holt to load the bases. He was lifted in favor of lefty Phil McCormick, who walked Tyler Naquiin to force in a run.
Westcott (5-12) was charged with two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings. He permitted five hits, walked two and struck out one. He settled for a no-decision in the outing.
Roberts continued his mastery of the Squirrels, firing six shutout innings. He conceded just five hits, walked one and struck out four. In three starts against the Squirrels, Roberts has allowed just two runs over 20 innings. However, the late uprising from the Squirrels cost him a decision.
The Aeros tacked on a run against McCormick in the seventh inning. Hunter knocked in Ronny Rodriguez with an RBI bounce out for a 3-0 lead.
Following the Squirrels’ rally, right-hander Edwin Quirarte came on and nailed down the win. He conceded a lead-off single in the ninth inning, but casually retired the next three batters to end the ballgame. Adams (1-2) took the loss for Akron.
The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Thursday night at The Diamond. Richmond RHP Taylor Rogers (5-7, 3.38) will make the start against Akron RHP Cody Anderson (0-0, —). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin on Sports Radio 910, www.sportsradio910.com and IHeart Radio at 6:35 p.m.