Goats rock Squirrels with 16-hit attack
The Hartford Yard Goats (38-37) pounded out 16 hits and used four Richmond errors to down the Flying Squirrels (38-37) by a final of 11-5 on Tuesday at Dunkin Donuts Park. The 16 hits and four errors both matched season-highs for the Squirrels. Richmond gathered nine hits in the loss – three from Ryan Howard. Hartford has taken the first two games of the series and the teams will continue the four-game set on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. The team will return to The Diamond on Wednesday, July 4 for an Independence Day celebration with three of Central Virginia’s best fireworks shows (July 4, 5 & 7). Tickets can be purchased here.
Ryan Howard’s third, three-hit game of the season was joined by Luigi Rodriguez’ ninth homer of the year. In the loss, Jerry Sands also added a pair of hits (2-3, BB,2B) and CJ Hinojosa extend his hitting streak to 12 consecutive game (13 dating to last season). Former Flying Squirrels infielder Brandon Bednar went 5-5 in the contest, becoming the first player on the short Yard Goats team history to connect on five hits in a nine inning game.
Yard Goats closer Matt Pierpont earned his 20th save of the season, dousing a Squirrels rally in the top of the eighth inning. With the bases loaded, Richmond’s Jeff Arnold slashed a one-out single off the wall in right field, pulling the Squirrels to within two, 7-5. Pierpont was then summoned from the bullpen and struck out Ronnie Jebavy and Ali Castillo to end the inning. Hartford grabbed the momentum in the bottom of the eighth inning, adding four more runs to put the game away. Three of the runs in the eight scored on a dropped fly ball in centerfield.
The Squirrels quickly were able to erase the shutout stigma from Monday with a quick run in the first inning on Tuesday. CJ Hinojosa led off the game with a single and then swiped second. After Luigi Rodriguez flew out to left, Ryan Howard roped his 20th double of the year up the third base line for a 1-0 Richmond lead.
The Yard Goats swiftly countered with four runs in the bottom of the first, sending nine men to the plate against Jordan Johnson and Richmond. Forrest Wall opened the rally by shooting a groundball to third base that hit off Jonah Arenado for an error. Brendon Rodgers followed with a base hit and Roberto Ramos brought them both home with a two-run double off the top of the right field wall. Ramos’ double might have actually left the park but was deemed a double for a 2-1 advantage. Dom Nunez and Ryan Metzler each added RBI base hits, pushing the Goats lead to 4-1. Hartford sent nine men to the plate in the inning, forcing Johnson to throw 27 pitches.
Johnson worked with runners on base throughout the night and limited the evening’s damage that included three errors and 11 hits in his time on the hill. Hartford went ahead 5-1 in the third inning when Ryan Metzler executed a bunt base hit, plating Hilliard from third base.
Richmond chipped away at the deficit, starting with a solo home run off the bat of Luigi Rodriguez in the fifth. With two outs, Rodriguez, sailed a two-out solo shot over the left centerfield fence. It was the ninth homer of the season for Luigi and his fifth in his last eight games. The Squirrels pulled to within a pair in the sixth, cashing in a leadoff double form Jerry Sands. Jonah Arenado brought home Sands with a sacrifice fly to centerfield for a 5-3 contest.
Castelanni (5-3) lasted six innings in his second consecutive win. The righty allowed three runs on seven hits. He struck out one and walked six. The Squirrels Johnson pitched into the sixth but was removed after a single and a walk. Ryan Halstead entered with no outs and punched out two with a fly ball out to end the inning and close the line on Johnson (5+IP, 11H, 5R, 2ER, BB, 4K).
Connecticut native Patrick Ruotolo pitched the seventh inning for Richmond. The Goats struck for two in the inning, starting with Dom Nunez’ sixth home run of the season. Pinch-hitter Brian Mundell brought home Brandon Bednar to go ahead 7-3.
The Flying Squirrels continue their nine-game road trip – the longest off the year- in Hartford on Wednesday at 7:o5 p.m. Left-hander Conner Menez (6-6, 3.63) will make the start for the Squirrels against Yard Goats RHP Jesus Tinico (5-5, 4.95). The Flying Squirrels will return to The Diamond on Wednesday, July 4 for an Independence Day celebration. Tickets can be purchased online over the phone by calling 804-359-3866 (FUNN).