Augusta Free Press

Stars, Stripes, and a Squirrels win

Playing before a giant crowd at ARM & HAMMER Park, the Flying Squirrels (31-51) got a great tune up for the annual Independence Day celebration at The Diamond. They were looking for a win to earn a split against the Thunder (52-31), who trotted out Yankees #20 prospect Vicente Campos in Sunday’s finale. Richmond used a four-run third inning, and rode Dan Slania for a career-high seven-and-two-thirds in a 6-3 win in front of 6,112.

Slania was back on the bump after taking his first loss as a starter in his most recent outing against the RubberDucks. A walk to Mark Payton with two outs in the first forced him into the stretch early, but he responded by striking out Kyle Higashioka looking to retire the side. Campos also had it working early, breaking out his curveball to throw just 18 pitches and face the minimum through two innings.

However, an infield single from Tyler Horan and his beard immediately changed the complexion of the Squirrels third. He quickly stole second base, and Carlos Moncrief doubled him home with a booming shot that bounced over the right field wall. Campos followed with two strikeouts, but Brandon Bednar dunked a single into center for his sixth RBI in eight games. Christian Arroyo added a single into right field, and Chris Shaw delivered his first extra-base hit with an opposite field double to left that tacked on two runs for a 4-0 lead.

Slania looked quite comfortable despite suffering a loss in an earlier appearance in Trenton. For the first four innings, the only hit off him came on Michael O’Neill’s leadoff infield single to start the home third. The big righthander just kept on trucking and retired six straight to keep the Thunder off the scoreboard the first two trips through the order, while allowing just two infield singles during that stretch.

Shaw had one of the loudest pops of the night when he opened the sixth with his first professional triple in his 122nd career game. Unfortunately, Campos got the next three outs to keep the Squirrels lead at 4-0. Slania (7-5) hardly broke a sweat and worked really well with Jeff Arnold behind the plate, combining for seven-and-two-thirds with just two walks and four singles allowed.




The Squirrels struck twice in the top of the ninth against Thunder reliever Tyler Jones, who walked Horan with one out. Moncrief cracked his second double to the right field wall, and Horan followed the play to the plate after O’Neill’s throw from right sailed by the cutoff man and ended up behind the dish. Moncrief soon stole third, and Arnold brought in the final run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

What was supposed to be an easy night in relief for Rodolfo Martinez got a little complicated when he walked Payton and surrendered a two-run home run to Sebastian Valle. Another walk to Cito Culver allowed Dan Fiorito to bounce an RBI double over third base that cut the deficit in half at 6-3. Miguel Ojeda wasn’t taking chances, and pushed the right buttons with Tyler Mizenko coming in to throw two pitches for the final out and his first save.

The Squirrels are back at The Diamond on Monday night at 6:05 for their annual 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza to kick off a seven-game homestand. They’ll begin a four-game series against the Reading Fightin Philswith Matt Gage (4-5, 3.75 ERA) getting the start against Jeremy Bleich (4-1, 3.28 ERA). The full promotional schedule can be found here. Season tickets, mini plans, and group packages are currently available by contacting the box office at 804-359-FUNN or online at www.squirrelsbaseball.com.