Menez dazzles in Double-A debut as Squirrels even series
Flying Squirrels left-hander Conner Menez blanked the Senators (35-31) over six innings in his Double-A debut, dealing Richmond (34-31) to a 5-1 victory on Saturday night at FNB Field. Menez retired the last 14 batters he faced to earn the win in his first Flying Squirrels start. The southpaw was backed by home runs from Miguel Gomez and Luigi Rodriguez to even the series at one game apiece. The series and road trip concludes in Harrisburg on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. The Flying Squirrels return to Funnville on Tuesday, June 19 with Scott’s Addition Night. The first 1,000 fans (15+) will receive a free Scott’s Addition limited cap, presented by Morton. Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone by contacting the box office at 804-359-FUNN.
Menez eschewed trouble by dancing around some early baserunner traffic in his Double- A debut. Harrisburg put a pair of runners on in the first on a Kelvin Gutierrez single and a walk. Menez escaped the jam by striking out Adam Brett Walker. In the second inning Menez escaped again, this time with the bases loaded and nobody out. Menez induced a 1-2-3 double play and picked up a fly ball to end the threat. The lefty used 36 pitches in the first two innings.
Richmond provide Menez a run – albeit on an error – in the top of the fourth inning. Harrisburg’s Jaron Long cruised through the first three innings and had not allowed a hit until Dylan Davis smashed a two-out double to left field in the fourth. Long should have been out of the inning as the next batter Aramis Garcia looped a fly ball into right centerfield. Shortstop Osvaldo Abreu went back on the ball and center fielder Hunter Jones came in to try and make the play. At the last moment, left fielder Adam Brett Walker attempted to take control of the play and muffed the catch, allowing Davis to score from second base for a 1-0 Richmond lead.
Miguel Gomez made it a 2-0 Richmond advantage for the Flying Squirrels one inning later, ripping his fourth home run of the season deep over the right field fence. Gomez took long deep on a 2-2 pitch.
Long worked into the seventh inning and left the game with a pair of runners on and one out. Lefty Ismael Guillon relived long to face the pinch-hitting lefty Dillon Dobson. Guillon struck out Dobson but was snake bitten as he allowed a pair of infield hits, leading to a 3-0 score. Luigi Rodriguez chopped a ball to second and beat the throw, loading the bases and CJ Hinojosa rolled a soft ground ball to third, plating Jonah Arenado.
Long (1-4) lasted 6.2 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on just three hits allowed in the defeat. Menez (1-0) earned the win in his debut and retired the final 14 batters he faced. The lefty did not allow a run over six solid innings. He walked two and struck out four, using 94 pitches in the effort.
The Senators broke through for a run and pulled to within two in the bottom of the seventh inning Patrick Ruotolo relived Menez and was greeted on a deep home run off the bat of Adam Brett Walker. Walker’s fourth smash of the year made it a 3-1 contest. Ruotolo battled through the inning as the Senators forced him consistently into deep pitch counts. A double and a pair of walks loaded the bases and forced Ruotolo out of the game after recording just a pair of outs. Dillon McNamara was summed to quell the uprising and lined out Kelvin Gutierrez to end the inning.
Richmond created some additional separation in the ninth inning when Luigi Rodriguez launched a two-run homer of the left field fence for a 5-1 lead.
McNaMara worked 1.1 innings in the outing and Caleb Simpson retired the side in the ninth to end the game.
The Flying Squirrels and Harrisburg Senators conclude the series on Sunday afternoon at FNB Field. LHP Garrett Williams (2-4, 5.33) is set to start for Richmond against Harrisburg’s RHP Kyle McGowin (3-1, 2.63). First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. The Flying Squirrels will return to Funnville on Tuesday, June 19 with Scott’s Addition Night. The first 1,000 fans (15+) will receive a free Scott’s Addition limited cap, presented by Morton. Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone by contacting the box office at 804-359-FUNN.