The Richmond Flying Squirrels (5-4) scored four times in the bottom of the ninth inning to walk-off the Altoona Curve (3-4), 5-4, in front of a second consecutive capacity crowd at The Diamond on Friday night.
Richmond trailed 4-1 to the bottom of the ninth inning as Altoona right-hander A.J. Morris returned in relief. Morris notched the first out of the inning, but walked Ryan Lollis to get the Squirrels started. Eric Sim forced Lollis, but Skyler Stromsmoe extended the game with a flared-single. The Curve brought on Matt Benedict to attempt to close it out. Instead, he hit pinch-hitter Ricky Oropesa with a pitch to load the bases. Tyler Graham then laced a two-run double to right field to close Richmond to within one run and put the winning runs in scoring position. Matt Duffy came up and chopped an infield-single to the shortstop Alen Hanson. When Hanson kicked the baseball trying to make a heroic play, Graham raced in behind pinch-runner Kelby Tomlinson to set off the celebration. Benedict (0-1) took the loss for Altoona.
The Curve struck first in the top of the first inning and also knocked Richmond lefty Adalberto Mejia from the ballgame when he was struck in the lower leg by a comebacker. Mejia recorded the first out, but Gift Ngoepe lined a pitch back to the mound, striking Mejia in the lower leg. It ricocheted into left field for a base hit. Mejia was inspected by Squirrels’ trainer Dave Getsoff, but did continue in the ballgame. His next pitch was cracked into the left-field corner by Stetson Allie for a double. Ngoepe scampered around from first base to score the night’s first run.
Mejia finished the first inning, but was then lifted. He was charged with one run in his one inning. He conceded two hits and struck out one.
Right-hander Austin Fleet was pressed into service and turned in a masterful performance to keep the Squirrels in the ballgame. He worked 4 1/3 scoreless innings, conceding just one hit. He did walk three, but also struck out three.
Altoona right-hander Nick Kingham was in control through the first five innings, holding off Richmond on just one hit. Graham sparked the Squirrels in the sixth however, leading off with a triple to the left-field corner. Duffy followed and drilled a double into the left-center field to tie the game, 1-1.
Kingham permitted just the lone run over six innings, but didn’t factor in the decision. He allowed three hits, walked three and struck out four.
The Curve mounted what seemed to be a game-winning rally in the top of the eighth inning. They plated three runs off of righty Cody Hall, including a two-run home run to left field from Willy Garcia, to take a 4-1 lead.
Right-hander Derek Law (1-0) earned the win in relief for Richmond, working the final inning-and-a-third.
Game three of the four-game series is scheduled at The Diamond on Saturday night at 6:05 p.m. Richmond RHP Kyle Crick (1-0, 1.80) will make the start against Altoona RHP Tyler Sample (1-0, 0.00). Pregame coverage will begin at 5:35 p.m. on SportsRadio910.com.