Altoona shuts out Richmond
The Richmond Flying Squirrels (67-66) saw their offensive struggles continue as they were shutout, 3-0, by the Altoona Curve (64-69) on Saturday night at Peoples Natural Gas Field. It marked the ninth time on the year that the Squirrels had been shutout and drops Richmond five games behind the Bowie Baysox in the wild-card race.
Richmond right-hander Justin Fitzgerald had trouble locating through the first two innings, but emerged unscathed. His luck ran out in the third as the Curve plated the game’s first run without the benefit of a hit. With one out, Fitzgerald issued back-to-back walks Drew Maggi and Adalberto Santos. With the two runners on at first and second base, the right-hander uncorked a wild-pitch. The runners moved up, and Maggi scored when Fitzgerald was also wild to the backstop on the next pitch. Through three innings, Altoona had a 1-0 lead, as Fitzgerald issued four walks and delivered two wild-pitches.
Fitzgerald (7-8) ultimately worked six innings, allowing just the lone run. He conceded just five hits, but issued a career-high matching five walks. He was aided by two double-plays turned behind him, as well as the first triple-play in franchise history. Richmond turned the triple-play in the fifth inning after the first two hitters had recorded singles. With runners at first and second, Adalberto Santos sent a one-hop rocket to third base. Daniel Mayora grabbed it there, stepped on third and fired to second. Mark Minicozzi made the turn to first and beat Santos with the relay throw. The good fortune did not save Fitzgerald from his eighth defeat of the season.
Meanwhile, Curve left-hander Kris Johnson (2-2) was in control for seven innings. He blanked the Squirrels on three hits, walked two and struck out five. He earned the win in his first start of the season against the Squirrels.
Altoona tacked on two insurance runs against the Richmond bullpen in the bottom of the eighth inning. Both runs were charged to lefty Tom Vessella, but both scored following his departure on a two-run single for Gustavo Nunez off of righty Jake Dunning.
Right-hander Tim Alderson worked a scoreless eighth inning and handed it off to closer Vic Black in the ninth. Black earned his second save of the series and 10th of the season as he had no trouble with the Squirrels in the ninth inning.