Akron walks off Richmond Flying Squirrels

richmond flying squirrelsIn a game that featured eight lead changes, three ties and 27 combined hits, the Akron RubberDucks (57-40) out-thumped the Flying Squirrels (46-49) in a wild, 12-11 walk-off contest at Canal Park on Thursday night. Richmond took their fifth lead of the game with four runs in the ninth inning, but Akron countered – as they did all night long – with two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win it. John Riley and Jeff Arnold each homered for Richmond in the loss. The Squirrels and ‘Ducks continue the four-game series in game two on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Richmond in currently in the midst of a seven-game road swing and will return to The Diamond on Thursday, July 26 for Virginia Tech Night featuring Frank Beamer, driven by AAA.

The two teams combined for nine runs over the final two innings alone. Tied 7-7 in the bottom of the eighth, Akron pushed across three runs off reliever Sam Wolff. With two on and two out, Logan Ice knocked a double into the gap in right centerfield for a 9-7 Akron lead. Ice scored on a base hit from Tyler Krieger that provided the ‘Ducks with their largest lead of the game heading into the ninth.

The Squirrels surged back ahead as they rallied for four runs to take their fifth lead of the game on Thursday. Facing Akron closer Argenis Angulo, Ali Castillo lofted a misplayed triple into centerfield to keep the Squirrels hopes alive. Dylan Davis then stepped to the plate and hit a sharp ground ball to third base. Third baseman Joe Sever made a nifty play to field it, but his throw to first was short, scoring Castillo. Luigi Rodriguez then cranked a double and Jeff Arnold lofted sacrifice fly, pulling Richmond to within a run, 10-9. With two outs, Caleb Gindl restored the Richmond lead by knocking a two-run homer over the left centerfield fence. Gindl’s first home run of the season put Richmond ahead, 11-10.

For the fifth and final time, Akron responded in the bottom of the ninth, this time for the win. Facing Richmond’s Sam Wolff, Bobby Bradley immediately tied the game with a booming home run over the batter’s eye. Connor Marabell then grounded a double into the alley in right centerfield on a ball that was misplayed, allowing Marabell to take third base. Mark Mathais then ended the game by lofting a sacrifice fly into right field.

Wolff (0-1) suffered the loss. The righty tossed the eighth and ninth innings. He allowed five runs on five hits. Angulo earned the win while enduring a blown save. He also allowed five hits (four runs) in the effort.

The scoring was abundant from the beginning. The Squirrels struck first against the ‘Ducks with a run in the top of the first inning. Dylan Davis and Luigi Rodriguez opened the inning with a pair of singles off Akron lefty Sean Brady. The single for Rodriguez was an infield base hit and snapped an 0-35 stretch for the slugger. Jeff Arnold followed with a sacrifice bunt and Calen Gindl scored Davis by lofting a sacrifice fly to centerfield, giving Richmond a 1-0 lead.

Akron responded with a run in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. With one out, Connor Marabell drilled his 18ty double of the season – a line drive shot off the wall in centerfield. Connolly maned to pop up the next hitter in Mark Mathias, but relinquished a base hit to Willi Castro, evening the score.

The Squirrels and Akron swapped leads in the third. Richmond’s Ali Castillo put the Squirrels back on top with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring John Polonius who singled. The ducks quickly returned serve to take the lead, starting with a leadoff triple for Logan Ice. Andrew Calica double home Ice to tie the game and Joe Sever delivered a sacrifice fly giving the ‘Ducks their first lead of the game, 3-2.

A home run for each squad tied the game yet again in the fourth. John Riley launched a three-run homer deep over the right field wall, puling Richmond back ahead, 5-3. The homer was the first at Double-A for Riley. Akron yet again responded in the bottom half of the inning. Willi Castro annihilated a 1-0 pitch over the right center field fence, knotting the game once again, 5-5.

Connolly lasted five innings in his first outing with Richmond since June 13. The righty allowed the five runs on seven hits while tossing 79 pitches in the no-decision. Connolly walked one and struck out one before being relieved by Dan Slania in the sixth inning.

Two more runs each crossed the plate in the sixth, including the two-run shot for Jeff Arnold. Slania was worked for a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame with one occurring on Marabell’s 10th home run of the year. Slania tossed two innings on the outing.

Richmond continues their seven-game road trip with game two from Akron on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. RHP Jose Flores (0-0, 9.00) is scheduled to make the start for the Squirrels against Akron RHP Triston McKenzie (4-2, 2.86). The Squirrels return to Funnville on Thursday, July 26 with a celebrity appearance from former Virginia Tech football head coach Frank Beamer. Beamer joins Virginia Tech Night driven by AAA. Tickets and information can be found at www.squirrelsbaseball.com or by calling 804-359-FUNN (3884)

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