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Richmond Flying Squirrels fall 3-1

richmond-squirrelsThe Richmond Flying Squirrels (34-32) first lost the lead, and eventually their sixth straight ballgame, 3-1, to the Reading Fightins (27-39) in front of a sellout crowd of 9,560 at The Diamond on Saturday night.  The losing skid matches the longest of the year for the Squirrels.  The sellout for the Squirrels is their fourth in their 32nd opening.  The franchise record for sellouts in a season is nine, which occurred in 2010.

Right-handers Craig Westcott for Richmond and David Buchanon for Reading battled through five innings of a pitchers duel.  Each blanked the opposition through five, with Westcott conceding just three hits while Buchanan allowed just one.

Westcott twirled another scoreless inning in the top of the sixth inning and then sparked the Squirrels offensively in the bottom of the frame.  Westcott led off and cracked a single into right field.  Javier Herrera bunted him to second base with one out.  Joe Panik grounded out, but Ryan Lollis delivered a single to right-center field to score Westcott for a 1-0 lead.

Buchanan and Westcott were each superb over seven innings.  Buchanan (3-7) allowed just the lone run on three hits.  He walked one, struck out six and was turned into the winner when Reading rallied in the eighth inning.  Westcott received a no-decision, despite turning in his strongest outing of the season.  He shut out the Fightins on three hits, walked none and struck out five.  He finished his night by retiring 11 straight hitters and 21 of the final 22 that he faced.

For the second straight night, the Richmond bullpen couldn’t hold the 1-0 lead.  Lefty Tom Vessella entered for the eighth and conceded an inning-opening single to Justin Dalles.  Tyson Gillies followed with a bunt-single to put two aboard.  Sebastian Valle bunted the runners up to second and third and the Squirrels went back to the bullpen for right-hander Omar Javier.  Javier’s first pitch was wild, allowing the tying run to score for Reading.  Albert Cartwright then singled through a drawn-in infield to push Reading in front, 2-1.  Both runs were charged to Vessella (2-1), who took the loss for Richmond.

Reading scratched across an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning, and then turned the game over to right-hander Luis Garcia.  He had a bit of trouble in the bottom of the ninth, but fanned Mark Wagner to end the ballgame.  Garcia earned his first save of the season.  Righty Hector Neris and lefty Jay Johnson combined to work a scoreless eighth.

The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at The Diamond.  Richmond LHP Jack Snodgrass (5-2, 1.92) will make the start against Reading LHP Austin Wright (1-3, 9.12).  The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warm Up begins at 1:35 p.m. on Sports Radio 910, SportsRadio910.com and IHeart Radio.

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