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Richmond’s playoff chances suffer setback as Harrisburg sweeps doubleheader

richmond-squirrelsThe Harrisburg Senators (69-60) swept a critical doubleheader from the Richmond Flying Squirrels (65-64) in front of 6,349 at The Diamond on Tuesday night.  The Senators grabbed a nip-and-tuck affair, 3-2, in game one before finishing the sweep with a, 5-1, win in game two.  The Squirrels ended the evening 3 ½ games out of a playoff spot and trailing the Senators by four games for the division lead.

The Senators plated an unearned run in the first inning of game one to take an early lead against Richmond righty Craig Westcott.  Billy Burns reached on a lead-off infield-single.  He stole second base and took third when third baseman Adam Duvall misplayed a ground ball from Ricky Hague.  Justin Bloxom then sent a ball back to the mound that could have been a double play.  However, Westcott threw high to second base.  Joe Panik nabbed the throw for the out, but couldn’t get a good throw off to first base to complete the double play.

The Squirrels answered quickly against lefty Robbie Ray in their half of the first inning.  Panik sparked the inning with a one-out single to center field.  An out later, Ray walked Mark Minicozzi to put two aboard.  Angel Villalona followed and rifled a double off the wall in left field.  Panik scored to tie the ballgame, 1-1.

Villalona put Richmond in front for the first time in the third inning.  With two outs, he cracked a solo-home run to left field.  His seventh of the season grazed the top of the wall, narrowly giving the Squirrels the lead, 2-1.

The lead was short-lived as the Senators responded with two outs in the top of the fourth inning.  Burns chopped an infield-single to the right side of the infield.  Villalona threw wildly into the Richmond dugout allowing Burns to second on the play.  Brian Goodwin then cracked a single into right-center to plate Burns and knot the ballgame again, 2-2.

Both starters worked five innings and didn’t factor in the decision.  The Squirrels used right-hander Edwin Quirarte and lefty Phil McCormick to get through a scoreless sixth inning.  Harrisburg right-hander Tyler Herron (5-2) held off the Squirrels in the sixth inning and earned the win in relief.

Richmond right-hander Drew Bowlin came on to work the seventh inning.  Ricky Hague led off and promptly gave the Senators the lead.  He cracked a solo-home run to left field, his eighth of the season.  It was the game-winner for the Senators.  Bowlin (3-2) took the loss for the Squirrels.

Harrisburg right-hander Aaron Barrett came on and worked a scoreless seventh inning.  He earned his 25th save of the season.

The Senators also got out quickly in the second game, plating two first-inning runs against right-hander Taylor Rogers.  Burns walked to start the game and Goodwin brought him around with a double to right-center field.  Hague singled and Bloxom made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to left field.

A unique play stretched the Senators lead in the third inning.  Burns led off and chopped a hit over the head of the third baseman, Minicozzi.  Javier Herrera threw wildly to second base, and Burn tore all the way around to score on a double and two-base throwing error.  Goodwin followed and decked a solo-home run to right field.  Harrisburg led, 4-0.

Rogers (5-8) worked five innings and was saddled with the loss.  He conceded four earned runs on five hits, walked one and struck out two in his eighth setback of the year.

Right-hander Nathan Karns (8-6) was sensational for the Senators.  He went the distance, allowing just a lone run in the seventh inning.  He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out eight to earn his eighth win of the year.

The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday night at The Diamond.  Richmond LHP Edwin Escobar (4-3, 2.57) will make the start against Harrisburg RHP Rob Gilliam (3-6, 4.59).  The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin on Sports Radio 910, www.sportsradio910.com and IHeart Radio at 6:35 p.m.

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