The Richmond Flying Squirrels (31-25) lost the lead twice, but resiliently fought off the trenton thunder (32-38), 6-4, at The Diamond on Wednesday night. The win returns the Squirrels to a high-water mark of six games above .500 and creates a rubber-game scenario in the final game of the series scheduled for Thursday night.
The Squirrels opened the scoring with an unearned against right-hander Bryan Mitchell in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Matt Duffy singled into right-center field. An out later, he moved to second when Mitchell walked Mario Lisson. Duffy scored when Thunder catcher Gary Sanchez tried to throw behind Lisson at first base. His throw was errant, bounding all the way into the right-field corner. Duffy’s run was unearned and put Richmond in front, 1-0.
Richmond tacked on a run in the third when Tyler Graham sparked things with a single. With Graham moving, Duffy executed the hit-and-run perfectly, pushing a single into right field as Graham scampered around to third. jarrett parker brought him in for a 2-0 advantage with a sacrifice-fly to left field.
Richmond lefty Ty Blach had little trouble through the first three innings, but the Thunder responded with the long-ball in the fourth. Blach surrendered a pair of solo-shots in the inning, both to left field. Tyler Austin led off the inning with his second of the season to trim Richmond’s lead to 2-1. An out later, Pete O’Brien cranked his 11th to tie the ballgame, 2-2.
The Squirrels hurriedly reclaimed the lead with a lone run in the fourth. Ricky Oropesa got the Squirrels started with a one-out single. Tyler LaTorre followed and served a single into left field to put two aboard. Kelby Tomlinson made it 3-2 Richmond when he flared a single into right field to bring Oropesa around.
On a short-pitch count, Mitchell called it a night after four innings. He was charged with three runs – two earned – on six hits. He walked one and struck out four. He did not factor in the decision.
The Thunder caught up again as they chased Blach in the top of the sixth inning. Blach casually recorded the first two outs, but then issued back-to-back walks to Sanchez and O’Brien. Rob Refsnyder followed with a single to left field. Sanchez scored to even the game, 3-3.
Blach departed to a no-decision following the Refsnyder single. He was charged with three earned runs on five hits, walked two and struck out six.
Richmond took control for good in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Trenton bullpen. Lefty Tyler Webb opened the inning on the mound and walked Oropesa to start trouble. He then conceded a single to LaTorre to put two aboard. Webb was relieved by right-hander Manny Barreda and Skyler Stromsmoe promptly bunted the runners up to second and third. Tomlinson fanned, but Oropesa scored for the lead, 4-3, on a wild pitch from Barreda. Graham then yanked a two-run home run to left field. His second of the season gave the Squirrels their largest lead of the night, 6-3.
The Thunder inched back in with a run against righty Jose Casilla in the seventh inning. However, Casilla (1-0) earned the win in relief, garnering his first victory of the year.
Webb (1-3) took the loss for the Thunder. Cody Hall bridged the ballgame through the eighth inning for the Squirrels. Right-hander Derek Law took it from there. He worked a scoreless ninth to procure his league-leading 13th save of the season.
The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at The Diamond on Thursday night. Richmond LHP Jack Snodgrass (5-0, 1.93) will make the start against Trenton LHP Jeremy Bleich (4-4, 3.48). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup begins at 6:05 p.m. on Sports Radio 910 and SportsRadio910.com.