Six-run eighth pushes Richmond past Akron
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Jesus Navarro was an unlikely catalyst for the Richmond Flying Squirrels (63-60) as they once again stunned the Akron Aeros (56-67), 9-6, on Thursday night at The Diamond. Richmond scored six times in the bottom of the eighth inning to erase a three-run deficit and complete a three-game sweep of Akron. Richmond has won five straight, 14-of-16, and sits just a game-and-a-half out of playoff position in the Western Division.
Trailing 6-3 to the bottom of the eighth inning, the Squirrels rallied for six runs against a pair of Aeros’ right-handed relievers. They had some help as Trey Haley and Jose Flores combined for four walks – three from Haley. The rally also began when Angel Villalona reached on a wild pitch following a strikeout. Haley walked Jesus Navarro with the bases loaded to force in the first run. Haley was replaced by Flores, but Skyler Stromsmoe pulled a two-run single through the right-side of the infield. Stromsmoe’s single tied the game, 6-6. Flores then walked Ryan Lollis to reload the bases. Joe Panik gave the Squirrels the lead with a bounce out, and Javier Herrera capped the inning with a two-run single up the middle. Haley (1-3) was charged with four of the six runs and took the loss for the Aeros.
Navarro finished the night 2-for-3 with a walk. He knocked in two runs and scored another in his biggest game of the season for the Squirrels.
The Aeros grabbed the early lead in the second inning against Richmond righty Taylor Rogers. Tyler Holt got Akron started with a triple to right-center field. Ronny Rodriguez knocked him in for a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Richmond responded quickly, plating a run in the bottom of the second against Akron right-hander Cody Anderson. Adam Duvall sparked the inning with a one-out single. He stole second base on a swinging-strike three to Jarrett Parker. Navarro then tied the ballgame, 1-1, with a double to the alley in left-center field.
Akron jumped back in front with two unearned runs in the third inning. With one out, Jose Ramirez sent a slow-roller to second base. Skyler Stromsmoe charged the ball, but couldn’t play it cleanly. The error allowed Ramirez to reach. He promptly swiped second base. Tyler Naquin then knocked him in with a single to center field. Cedric Hunter followed with a single to put runners at the corners with just one out. Rogers recovered to strike out Jesus Aguilar, but Carlos Moncrief delivered a two-out single to score Naquin for a 3-1 lead.
The Squirrels pulled back within a run in the fourth inning. Anderson started the inning with a walk to Duvall. An out later, Navarro singled to right field to put runners at the corners. Skyler Stromsmoe lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Duvall and trim the Akron lead to 3-2.
The Aeros got a final run off Rogers before he was lifted in the fifth inning. Hunter opened the frame with a single. Rogers then hit Jesus Aguilar and walked Carlos Moncrief to load the bases with nobody out. Rogers then uncorked a wild pitch to score Hunter for a 4-2 advantage. Rogers also walked Holt and was removed in favor of left-hander Ryan Bradley. Bradley entered and did a tremendous job of retiring the next three hitters without another run scoring.
Rogers didn’t factor in the decision, working four innings plus four batters. He was charged with four runs – two earned on eight hits. He walked two and struck out two.
Anderson worked five innings to a no-decision in his Double-A debut. He allowed two earned runs on four hits, walked three and struck out five.
Bradley was sensational in relief. He faced nine batters and retired them all. He struck out four in easily his finest performance of the season.
The Squirrels scored a run via a wild pitch in the seventh inning to pull within a run, 4-3. However, the Aeros built their three-run lead with two runs, both scored on wild pitches from lefty Josh Osich (2-2), in the top of the eighth inning. Osich recovered to work a perfect ninth inning. He earned the win for Richmond.
The Squirrels travel to Bowie, MD, on Friday to open a three-game series against the Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles) at Prince George’s Stadium. However, before they do, the two clubs will complete a game suspended due to rain at The Diamond on July 21st. The game will resume beginning at 6:05 p.m. with the game tied, 5-5, in the bottom of the 10thinning. The opener of the three-game series will begin approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of the suspended game. The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin on Sports Radio 910, www.sportsradio910.com and IHeart Radio at6 p.m.