Goats grab opener: Hold Squirrels to one run

Sam Coonrod recorded seven strikeouts and turned in a quality start for the Flying Squirrels in a 2-1 Richmond loss to the Yard Goats (8-10) on Friday night in Hartford.

richmond flying squirrelsRichmond (7-12) was held to one run on five hits in their first ever contest played at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Slade Heathcott made a highlight reel catch in the fifth inning, taking a home run away from Hartford’s Dillon Thomas by leaping above the left center field wall. The Squirrels second road trip of the season continues on Saturday at 6:05 p.m.

The Yard Goats scored the go-ahead run and snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning. Ryan McMahon doubled up the first base line to score Max White. Coonrod finished the sixth inning and allowed just the two runs in the loss.

Hartford’s White jumped on the first pitch he saw from Coonrod in the first, doubling to right center field. Coonrod quickly turned to a steady dose of off-speed pitches, and retired the next three hitters to end the inning and strand White.

Richmond returned the favor and threatened against Hartford starting hurler Yency Almonte in the second inning. With one out, Dylan Davis picked up his first Double-A hit with a single to left field. Hunter Cole then smashed a double off the façade in right center field, but Almonte retired the next two hitters to keep the game scoreless.

Coonrod quickly shrugged off the first inning double and retired the next 13 hitters he faced. The righty punched out Dillon Thomas and Collin Ferguson to start the second and Emerson Jimmenez in the third.  Coonrod mowed down the side in the fourth inning and was through the first four frames on 50 pitches.

The Squirrels once again applied pressure on Almonte in the fifth inning, but could not score. Rando Moreno worked a walk to begin the inning and Almonte walked Heathcot and Ali Castillo with two outs to load the bases. Miguel Gomez then grounded out to keep the contest without a run.

The Yard Goats finally broke through with a run in the fifth inning to snap the stalemate. Dillon Thomas led off the inningwith a deep shot to left center field. Heathcott sized up the fly ball and leapt above the wall to take away a home run. The very next batter, Drew Weeks, knocked a ball into nearly the exact same spot, this time just over the glove of Heathcott for a home run.

The Squirrels came back in the top of the sixth to tie the game, 1-1. Davis connected on his second hit of the night, a booming single off the right field wall and scored when Hunter Cole lashed a double to left center field. It was the second double of the game for Cole and his seventh of the year.

The Yard Goats quickly regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Coonrod walked Max White to start the inning and relinquished a one-out double off the first base bag to Ryan McMahon to give Hartford a 2-1 lead.

Coonrod and Almonte were both through after the sixth inning. Coonrod (0-2) allowed the two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts in the defeat. Almonte (2-0) earned the win and yielded just the one run on five hits over six innings.

Hartford reliever Steve Ascher tossed a scoreless seventh inning to back Almonte, but walked Chris Shaw to begin the eighth inning. Righty D.J Johnson then entered and worked around a walk of his own by inducing an inning-ending double play to keep the Hartford 2-1 lead intact.

Richmond turned to Christian Jones for the seventh inning and Reyes Mornonta for the eighth. Both relievers tossed scoreless innings with Mornota picking up a pair of strikeouts.

The Flying Squirrels continue their second road trip of the season on Saturday at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, CT. Lefty Matt Lujan (0-0, 2.40) will make the start for Richmond against RHP Parker French for the Yard Goats. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 910 AM and on the iHeart Media app starting at 5:35 p.m. The Squirrels will return to TheDiamond on May 4 for Star Wars Night and In-Your-Face-Fireworks presented by Steak ‘n’ Shake. Season tickets, mini plans and group outings are available by contacting the Flying Squirrels box office at 804-359-3866 or online at www.squirrelsbaseball.com

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