The Richmond Flying Squirrels (50-45) waited through an 1:20 rain-delay before defeating the Harrisburg Senators (33-51), 8-6, at Metro Bank Park on Thursday night. With the win, the Squirrels took the series and returned to 15 games above .500. They also increase their lead to 1 ½ games in the Western Division.
The Senators got started quickly against lefty Adalberto Mejia in the bottom of the first inning. Michael Taylor led off with an infield-single. Mejia struck out the next two batters, but Kevin Keyes lofted a two-run home run to right field for a 2-0 lead.
The Richmond response was immediate against right-hander James Simmons. Mario Lisson led off the second and ended an 11-game homerless drought for the Squirrels with a solo-shot to left field. Ricky Oropesa followed and cracked an opposite-field solo-home run to left field to tie the ballgame, 2-2. Devin Harris then sparked the inning anew with a double off the wall in left-center field. Tyler LaTorre made it four consecutive hits with a single back through the middle to put runners at the corners. Myles Schroder was then hit by a pitch from Simmons to load the bases. Mejia struck out, but Tyler Graham delivered an RBI single to give Richmond the lead, 3-2. Kelby Tomlinson then punched a two-run single into right field to bring in two more runs and cap the inning with the Squirrels in front, 5-2.
Keyes started more trouble for Mejia in the fourth inning as the Senators pulled within a run, 5-4. Keyes singled to start the inning and Mejia then walked Jason Martinson. Rick Hague followed with a single to load the bases with nobody out. Drew Vettleson lofted a sacrifice-fly and Cole Leonida followed with an RBI single to make it a one-run game.
Simmons called it a night after four innings. He allowed five earned runs on six hits, walked one, hit one and struck out four. He did not factor in the decision.
The Senators pulled even in the fifth inning. Cutter Dykstra opened the frame with a double to right-center field. Matt Skole followed with a single to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Keyes bounced into a double-play, but brought in Dykstra to knot the ballgame, 5-5.
Mejia also didn’t register a decision, working 5 2/3 innings. He permitted five earned runs on nine hits, walked two and struck out four.
The Squirrels forged back ahead with a pair of runs off right-hander Colin Bates in the seventh inning. jarrett parker opened the inning with a single. An out later, Tomlinson added his third single of the evening to put two aboard. Matt Duffy then singled through the left-side of the infield to bring in Parker for a 6-5 lead. Tomlinson moved to third on the play and scored when Lisson bounced into a force out.
Dykstra led off the bottom of the seventh against righty Jose Casilla and hurriedly cut it back to a one-run lead for the Squirrels, as he launched a solo-home run to left field.
However, Casilla (3-0) earned the win for the Squirrels, allowing just the lone run. Lefty Steven Okert took over after Casilla walked the lead-off man in the eighth and took the game to the finish line. He earned his third save with the Squirrels and 22nd of the season.
The Squirrels return to The Diamond to open an eight-game, seven-day home stand on Friday night. A four-game series with the Reading Fightin Phils (Philadelphia Phillies) will begin with a doubleheader. Game one will begin at 5:05 p.m. The doubleheader will consist of two seven-inning games. Neither team has announced their starting pitchers for the doubleheader. The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup begins at 4:35 p.m. on Sports Radio 910 and SportsRadio910.com.