Matt Duffy collected four hits and knocked in five runs to help the Richmond Flying Squirrels (37-26) drub the Trenton Thunder, 10-4, on Wednesday night at ARM & HAMMER Park. It marked the second consecutive four-hit game for Duffy, who is now 8-for-10 in the series. The Squirrels have claimed five of the first six games on their current road trip, 13 of their last 15 overall and now check in a season-high 11 games over .500.
The Squirrels hurriedly grabbed the lead against right-hander Graham Stoneburner in the top of the first inning. Tyler Graham led off with a single and promptly swiped second base. Duffy followed with a single back through the middle to bring in Graham for a 1-0 lead. Mario Lisson then walked to put two aboard. Trenton catcher Peter O’Brien attempted to throw behind Lisson and instead ricocheted the throw off his batting helmet and into the stands. Duffy was awarded the plate on the two-base error and Richmond had a 2-0 lead.
The advantage was short-lived as the Thunder responded quickly against lefty Jack Snodgrass in the bottom of the first inning. Mason Williams sparked the inning with a lead-off single. Snodgrass then walked Francisco Cervelli to put two aboard. Ben Gamel followed and knocked in Williams with a single up the first-base line. Rob Segedin then laced a two-run double through the alley in left-center field to give the Thunder the lead, 3-2.
Richmond came right back against Stoneburner in the second. Eliezer Zambrano led off and cranked a solo-home run to right-center field. It marked the first home run as a Squirrel for Zambrano, who has been a member of every Flying Squirrels team since 2010. Skyler Stromsmoe followed and cracked a double to left-center field. Duffy then launched a two-run home run to left field. His second of the year gave Richmond the lead back, 5-3. Following the home run Duffy was six for his first seven in the series.
Both starters settled in from there, as Snodgrass (7-0) worked through five innings before calling it a night. He allowed just the three runs in the first inning on six total hits. He walked two, hit one, struck out four and remained unbeaten on the season.
Stoneburner kept the Squirrels at bay through the fifth inning, but ran into trouble before being removed in the sixth. Devin Harris led off with a single before Zambrano cracked a perfect hit-and-run single through the left side to put runners at the corners. Lefty Tyler Webb was summoned and Stromsmoe lifted a sacrifice-fly to left field for a 6-3 Richmond lead.
Stoneburner (2-4) was tagged with the loss over five innings plus two batters. He surrendered six runs – five earned – on 10 hits. He walked two and struck out one.
Richmond put the Thunder away for good with four runs in the eighth inning – all charged to right-hander Phil Wetherell. The inning included a two-run single from Duffy. Duffy collected his second consecutive four-hit night, finishing 4-for-5. Graham also knocked in a run with a single.
Right-hander Jose Casilla was magnificent in relief, twirling three nearly flawless innings to bridge the ballgame to the ninth inning. Lefty Josh Osich returned from the disabled list to work the ninth inning. He surrendered a run before giving way to left-hander Phil McCormick, who finished the win for Richmond.
The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Thursday night at ARM & HAMMER Park. Richmond RHPAustin Fleet (4-1, 3.22) will make the start against Trenton LHP Matt Tracy (7-2, 3.95). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup begins at 6:35 p.m. on Sports Radio 910 and SportsRadio910.com.