The Richmond Flying Squirrels (72-59) broke out the bats in a big way, pounding the New Britain Rock Cats (65-65), 10-1, to snap a five-game slide on Thursday night at The Diamond. The win eliminated New Britain from playoff contention, allowing the Binghamton Mets to claim the second playoff spot in the Eastern Division. Richmond lowered their own post-season magic number to seven with the victory.
The Squirrels opened the scoring against right-hander Jose Berrios in the fourth inning. Devin Harris triggered the inning with a lead-off double shot to the corner in right field. Ricky Oropesa followed and reached on an error charged to New Britain first baseman Mike Gonzales. Harris scored on the miscue for a 1-0 lead. Angel Villalona then dumped a single into right field. Myles Schroder followed with a sacrifice-fly to center field to make it 2-0.
Richmond got back after Berrios in the sixth inning, plating two more runs and chasing the 20-year old from the ballgame. Once again, Harris got things started. With one away, he laced a single into left field. Oropesa followed and drilled a ground-rule double to left-center field. Villalona then looped a two-run single just over the top of a drawn-in infield for a 4-0 advantage.
Berrios (2-4) was lifted after 5 2/3 innings. He was charged with four runs – three earned – on eight hits. He walked one, struck out four and endured his fourth Eastern League loss.
Meanwhile, Richmond lefty Ty Blach cruised through six scoreless innings. He hit his first bump in the road at the outset of the seventh inning. Tony Thomas and Brandon Waring provided back-to-back doubles to right field to put the Rock Cats on the board for the first time. Blach got the first two outs of the inning, but then called it a night.
Blach (8-7) was the victor over 6 2/3 innings. He was charged with just the lone run on seven hits. He walked none and struck out five as he earned his eighth win of the year.
The Squirrels poured it on late, scoring three runs apiece in the seventh and eighth innings. Blake Miller highlighted both innings, producing a two-run triple in the seventh and an RBI single in the eighth. Miller was one of five Squirrels with multiple hits in the ballgame.
Right-hander Jose Casilla worked a scoreless 1 1/3 innings of relief behind Blach. Righty Carlos Alvarado then mopped up with a scoreless ninth.
The Squirrels continue their six-day home stand as they open a three-game series with Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles) at The Diamond on Friday night. The opener is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. as Richmond RHP Clayton Blackburn (3-5, 2.87) will make the start against Bowie RHP Zach Davies (10-6, 3.01). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin at 6:35 p.m. on Sports Radio 910 and SportsRadio910.com.