Nats’ Daniel Murphy blasts go-ahead homer, downs Squirrels

richmond flying squirrelsWashington Nationals rehabbing second baseman Daniel Murphy lofted a go-ahead solo home run in the eighth inning, lifting the Harrisburg Senators (29-29) over the Flying Squirrels (30-27) 8-7 on Friday night in front of 8,042 fans at The Diamond. The Squirrels staked themselves to an early 7-2 lead with a six-run second inning, but could not hang on in the opener. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday with game one starting at 5:05 p.m. Saturday is University of Richmond Night with Super Blast Fireworks following the game. Tickets and promotional information can be found here.

Murphy (2-3, 2BB, HR, RBI) snapped the stalemate off reliever Dan Slania in the eighth inning. Slania entered the frame with one runner on and induced a double play prior to the Murphy’s blast. Slania (0-1) suffered his first loss of the season despite allowing just the one run over two innings of work.

Both starting pitchers struggled mightily to record outs early on and neither lasted more than three innings. Richmond struck up 7-2 lead over the first two innings, knocking Harrisburg starting pitcher Logan Darnell out of the game early. The Squirrels scored the game’s first run in the first on a pair of doubles from Matt Lipka and Ryan Howard. Lipka (3-5, RBI) recorded two of the six doubles on the night for Richmond.

Harrisburg countered with a pair of runs off Mike Connolly in the second, taking a brief 2-1 lead. Richmond quickly responded with six runs, starting with six consecutive hits. John Polonius (double), Ronnie Jebavy (RBI double), Mike Connolly (RBI double), Matt Lipka (RBI single), Jerry Sands (single) and Ryan Howard (2RBI double), plated the first five runs of the inning without an out being recorded. Aramis Garcia added an RBI base hit back up the middle to push the Squirrels ahead, 7-2.

Darnell lasted just 1.2 innings in the no-decision. The veteran lefty yielded seven runs on ten hits in the effort. He tossed 57 pitches – 40 in the second inning prior to being relieved by Austen Williams. Williams entered with a 3-2 count on Ronnie Jebavy and tossed one pitch, a fastball strike on the outside corner -ending the monster inning.

The Senators returned the favor with a big inning in the third, forcing Richmond to dip into the bullpen. Mike Connolly picked up the first out of the inning but then relinquished an infield hit and a walk. Taylor Gushue followed with a base hit, loading the bases on Connolly. Drew Ward then connected on  an RBI base hit, pulling the Senators to within four, 7-3. Hunter Jones grounded in the fourth run on a fielder’s choice and Austin Davidson struck for his second double of the game, plating two runs. Connolly walked the next batter and was replaced by Will LaMarche. LaMarche escaped the inning with the lead intact, 7-6.

Harrisburg tied things up with a run in the top of the fourth inning. With one out in the frame, LaMarche walked Kelvin Gutierrez. Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, in Richmond on a rehab assignment, followed with a base hit and catcher Taylor Gushue ripped an RBI single, knitting the game, 7-7. LaMarche escaped the inning without any more damage and lasted 2.2 innings overall in relief for the Squirrels. LaMarche punched out six batters and allowed just one run on four hits.

Much like LaMarche, Harrisburg’s Austen Williams salvaged the game for the Senators. Williams worked a season=high 4.2 innings of scoreless relief. The righty allowed just two hits to go along with four strikeouts. He did not walk a batter in the outing. The Senators bullpen did not allow a run in 7.1 innings of work. Jeff Ames (2-0) picked up the win with two scoreless innings pitched.

The Flying Squirrels homestand continues Saturday against Harrisburg with a doubleheader. Game one of the double dip begins at 5 p.m., with gates opening at 4:30 p.m. RHP Shaun Anderson (5-2, 3.38) is set to throw game one for Richmond against Senators RHP Jefry Rodriguez (4-3, 3.88). The Squirrels have not announced a starter for game two. Saturday is University of Richmond Night with Super Blast Fireworks following the game. Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone by contacting the box office at 804-359-FUNN.

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