First-inning blasts power Flying Squirrels

richmond flying squirrelsMiguel Gomez and Jerry Sands launched back-to-back home runs in the first inning, providing all the offense in a 3-0 Richmond (33-29) win over Portland (22-41) on Wednesday at The Diamond. The Richmond pitching staff of Chase Johnson (4IP, 4H, 6K), Mike Connolly (2IP, W, H, 3K), Will LaMarche (2IP, 2H, 4K) and Dillon McNamara (IP, S, H, 3K) secured the Squirrels fifth shutout of the year and combined for a season-high 16 strikeouts -without walking a batter. Richmond has won the first two games of the series against Portland and will attempt to complete the sweep on Thursday night at 6:35 p.m. Thursday in Funnville includes In-Your-Face Fireworks and the World Cup Kickoff presented by Poe’s Pub and Absolute Stone, Onyx Elite Fitness

Richmond started off the contest with a bang, unloading a pair of n0-doubter homers in the bottom of the first inning. Portland starting pitcher Teddy Stankiewicz walked C.J. Hinojosa with one out and followed the free pass by allowing a two-run blast to right field off the bat of Miguel Gomez. The next batter Jerry Sands also left they yard, driving a fastball deep over the right centerfield fence. Gomez’ third homer run of the season and Sands’ 10th gave Richmond an early 3-0 advantage.

Chase Johnson once again impressed on the mound for Richmond. Making his seventh start since returning from Tommy John surgery, Johnson worked four scoreless innings. The righty allowed four hits and struck out a season-high six batters by throwing a season-high 62 pitches. Johnson has lasted four innings in each of his past two outings.

Mike Connolly relieved Johnson to start the fifth inning with a 3-0 lead. Connolly allowed an inning-opening single to John Nunez but picked up a double play and a strikeout to end the frame. Connolly quickly retired the side in the sixth inning and was done for the night after throwing just 23 pitches. The righty allowed the one hit over two innings while facing the minimum six batters.

Portland’s Stankiewicz recovered after the two dingers allowed in the first inning. The right-hander limited the Squirrels to five more hits over the next five innings, keeping the game close. Stankiewicz induced a pair of pivotal double plays in his final two frames. With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, Aramis Garcia bounced a ball to short, allowing the Sea Dogs to escape trouble. Caleb GIndl reached on a walk to being the sixth and also was eliminated on a twin killing. Stankiewicz suffered the loss – despite a quality start – of six innings and three runs allowed.

Connolly (3-2) earned the win in relief while Will LaMarche and Dillon McNamara finished the team’s fifth shutout of the year. LaMarche punched out four batters over two innings of work. McNamara struck out the side to end the game and earn his fourth save of the year.

The Flying Squirrels conclude the homestand on Thursday against the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox). Right-hander Shaun Anderson (5-2 3.07), will start the series finale against Sea Dogs RHP Mike Shawaryn (2-5, 3.41). Thursday in Funnville includes In-Your-Face Fireworks and World Cup Kickoff presented by Poe’s Pub, Absolute Stone, Onyx Elite Fitness. Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone by contacting the box office at 804-359-FUNN.

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