The Richmond Flying Squirrels (41-31) held off the hard-charging Erie SeaWolves (31-41), 7-6, on Saturday night at Jerry Uht Park. Richmond nearly lost a four-run lead, but ultimately earned the series victory, having claimed the first two games of the three-game set.
The Squirrels grabbed the early lead with a first-inning run off of Erie right-hander Wilsen Palacios. Kelby Tomlinson sparked the uprising with a one-out double to right field. Matt Duffy followed and drilled the first pitch from Palacios through the alley in left-center field for a double. Tomlinson scored easily for a 1-0 lead.
Erie struck back in the bottom of the second inning to take a 2-1 lead against lefty Adalberto Mejia. Ramon Cabrera started trouble with a lead-off single right back through the box. Steven Moya followed with a hit-and-run single to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Mejia then threw errantly on an attempted pick-off at first base. His error allowed Cabrera to score to tie the game, 1-1. Moya also moved to second on the error and then stole third base. Dean Green then gave the SeaWolves the lead with an RBI double to the right-field corner.
Tyler Graham started a hit-parade when he singled into right field to open the third inning. Tomlinson followed with his second hit of the night – a single. Duffy then chipped in his second hit off Palacios – also a single – to plate Graham and tie the game, 2-2. Mario Lisson made it four consecutive hits when he blistered a double off the left-field wall. Tomlinson scored to give the Squirrels the lead back, 3-2. jarrett parker then stepped in and crushed the first pitch from Palacios over the right-field wall. The three-run shot – Parker’s seventh of the year – gave Richmond a 6-2 lead.
The Squirrels essentially handed Erie a run back in the fourth. Francisco Martinez opened the inning with a single off of Mejia, who then showed little interest in holding Martinez as he swiped both second and third base. Martinez scored to cut the Richmond lead to 6-3 on a passed ball charged to catcher Tyler LaTorre.
Palacios (4-4) called it a night after four innings. He was saddled with the loss after allowing six earned runs on nine hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Mejia (4-5) lasted five innings to earn the win. He conceded three runs – two earned – on four hits. He walked two and struck out three as he claimed his second consecutive win.
The Squirrels capped their scoring against right-hander Slade Smith in the eighth inning. Parker led off and doubled up the third-base line. An out later, LaTorre notched his third hit of the night – an RBI single to center field – to make it 7-3. LaTorre finished the night 3-for-4 with three singles.
Lefty Phil McCormick handled the sixth and seventh innings without incident. He also recorded the first two outs in the eighth. However, he issued a two-out walk to Devon Travis and then conceded a single to Cabrera. He was lifted in favor of lefty Josh Osich. As Osich walked towards the mound, the power went out at the ballpark, prompting a lengthy delay as the lights came back on. When the game resumed, Osich surrendered a monstrous three-run home run to Moya that pulled the SeaWolves within a lone run, 7-6.
Osich did record the final out of the eighth inning and the Squirrels went back to closer Cody Hall to try to close out the ballgame in the ninth. He had some difficulty, but ultimately got the job done with the aid of Parker, who threw out the would-be tying-run at the plate for the second out of the inning. Hall earned his seventh save of the season.
The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at Jerry Uht Park. Richmond LHP Kelvin Marte (5-2, 4.26) will make the start against Erie RHP Jeff Ferrell (4-5, 5.09). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup begins at1:05 p.m. on Sports Radio 910 and SportsRadio910.com.