Don’t call it a comeback: Squirrels rally, again
Richmond (39-64, 16-20) earned its first win this year when trailing after the 7th inning or later and improved to 4-11 in extra-inning games. It was the third straight win for the Flying Squirrels and clinched a series win over Altoona (52-51, 17-18) ahead of Sunday’s series finale. The Flying Squirrels have not completed a series sweep this season.
Trailing, 3-2, in the ninth inning, Bryce Johnson hit a lead-off single and moved to third on an error. Two batters later, Jalen Miller bounced a pinch-hit, RBI double over Brett Pope at shortstop to tie the game. Jonah Arenado followed with an RBI single to put Richmond in front.
The Curve forced extra innings with a run in the bottom of the ninth against Raffi Vizcaino. With the bases loaded and one out, Blight Madris tied the score with a sacrifice fly.
The Flying Squirrels plated an run in the 10th inning on an RBI single by Johnson before the Curve knotted the score once again with an RBI single from Pope against Carlos Navas (Win, 1-1).
Richmond took the lead for good in the 11th inning. With two outs and the placed runner Jacob Heyward at third base, Johneshwy Fargas lined a ground-rule double against Jesus Liranzo (Loss, 2-1) down the left-field line to lift the Flying Squirrels to a 6-5 lead.
The Flying Squirrels infield prevented the Curve from scoring in the bottom of the 11th inning, ending the game with a 6-3-2-5-3 double play. With runners on first and second, Logan Hill hit a grounder to shortstop. Arenado fielded and stepped on second base, but Jared Oliva was ruled safe. Arenado threw to Houchins at first to retire Hill, and Houchins spun and fired home to Brett Austin with Mitchell Tolman trying to score. Caught in a rundown, Austin, Ryan Howard and Houchins combined to tag out Tolman and secure the win.
Richmond scored first in the game, plating a run on two hits in the first inning. After Howard singled and moved to second on an error, Heyward drove him in with a single to center field.
Howard finished the game 2-for-4 with an RBI to extend his hitting streak to a season-long eight games. He is batting .400 (12-for-30) in that span.
Altoona jumped in front against Alfred Gutierrez in the second. With runners on second and third, Curve starter Beau Sulser tied the game with a sacrifice fly before Tolman put Altoona up, 2-1, with an RBI single. Altoona added a run in the third on an RBI single by Robbie Glendinning.
The Flying Squirrels cut the deficit to one with a run in the fifth. Fargas reached on an error, stole second base and advance to third on an error and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Howard. It was Fargas’ league-best 40th steal of the season.
Fargas became the second player in Flying Squirrels franchise history to reach 40 stolen bases in a single season, trailing only Kelby Tomlinson’s 49 steals in 2014.
The Flying Squirrels finish their series with the Altoona Curve at PNG Field on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., and coverage begins with the Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup at 5:30 p.m. on Sports Radio 910 the Fan and 105.1 FM.
Following a scheduled off day on Monday, the Flying Squirrels return to The Diamond to begin a three-game series against the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
As part of the 10 memorable past players series, the first 1,500 fans 15 and older to arrive at The Diamond on Tuesday will receive a “click the Panik button” T-shirt, honoring former Flying Squirrels and All-Star second baseman Joe Panik. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.
For tickets or more information, call 804-359-3866 (FUNN), visit SquirrelsBaseball.com/Tickets or stop by the Flying Squirrels box office.