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Flying Squirrels split Thursday doubleheader in Reading

Richmond Flying SquirrelsThe Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Reading Fightin Phils, 4-3, on Thursday night in the first game of a doubleheader before falling in the second game, 6-4, at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Flying Squirrels (12-9) have won two of the first three games in the series against the Fightin Phils (4-17), who snapped a six-game losing streak with the nightcap win.

Game 1

Richmond took game one of the double-header, 4-3, thanks to a three-run fourth inning and a steady bullpen performance.

Trailing, 3-1, the Flying Squirrels scored three runs in the fourth inning to retake the lead. With two runners on, Ronnie Freeman launched a fly ball to left-center that was initially ruled a home run, but later resulted in a two-RBI triple after the umpires changed their call. Pinch-hitter Vince Fernandez hit a sacrifice fly that scored Freeman to put Richmond in front, 4-3.

Richmond relievers Luis Amaya (Win, 2-0), Frank Rubio, Matt Seelinger and Raffi Vizcaíno (Save, 2) combined for 4.0 scoreless innings to close the game with seven strikeouts and stranded five Reading baserunners.

The Flying Squirrels opened the scoring in the first inning. With the bases loaded, a wild pitch from Reading starter Taylor Lehman allowed Heliot Ramos to score and move RIchmond to a 1-0 lead.

Reading took the lead, 2-1, in the bottom of the first courtesy of an RBI-double from Jorge Bonifacio, who later scored on a wild pitch from Richmond starter Gerson Garabito.

Bonifacio widened the Fightin Phils lead to 3-1 off a solo home run in the third inning.

Garabito finished his start with 3.0 innings pitched, three hits allowed with three runs, one walk and two strikeouts.

Lehman went 3.1 innings for Reading, allowing three hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks with five strikeouts. Braden Zarbnisky (Loss, 1-1) threw 1.2 innings in relief and allowed two hits and one run.

Game 2

A go-ahead grand slam by Jorge Bonifacio in the sixth inning pushed the Fightin Phils to a 6-4 win over the Flying Squirrels in game two of the double-header.

Richmond took an early lead in the first inning when Frankie Tostado bounced into a fielder’s choice, scoring Andy Sugilio. Vince Fernandez followed with an RBI-single to push the lead to 2-0.

In the third inning, David Villar drove an RBI single before being caught in a rundown between first and second base, which allowed Jacob Heyward to cross to plate, extending the lead to 4-0.

Reading responded with their own two-run inning in the bottom of the third courtesy of a two-run homer from Bonifacio, cutting the deficit to 4-2.

After a single and two walks by Richmond reliever Mac Marshall (Loss, 0-2), Bonifacio hit a grand slam against Patrick Ruotolo to give the Fightin Phils a 6-4 lead. Bonifacio finished with a combined 4-for-7 night with three home runs, a double and eight RBIs in the double-header.

Trenton Toplikar pitched 3.2 innings in his first start at the Double-A level with six hits allowed, two runs, two walks and four strikeouts.

In his Double-A debut, Jose Marte went 1.1 innings and struck out three of the five batters he faced. Marte has thrown 17 strikeouts in his six appearances (7.2 innings) in 2021 between Richmond and High-A Eugene.

Austin Ross (Win, 1-1) tossed a scoreless sixth inning for Reading and Jakob Hernandez (Save, 1) closed out the game with a 1-2-3 seventh.

The series continues on Friday night with first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium. Right-hander Caleb Kilian will make his Double-A debut for Richmond opposed by left-hander Francisco Morales (0-3, 18.69) for Reading.

The Flying Squirrels’ next homestand is June 1-6 against the Altoona Curve. The Diamond will open to full capacity starting June 1. Tickets are available online at Squirrelsbaseball.com/Tickets, by phone at 804-359-3866 or at the Flying Squirrels ticket office.

 


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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