Portland downs Richmond in opener, 5-1

richmond-squirrelsThe Portland Sea Dogs (76-50) defeated the Richmond Flying Squirrels (70-55), 5-1, on Friday night at Hadlock Field.  With the loss, and a win by the Bowie Baysox, the Squirrels’ magic number to obtain a post-season berth remains 10 with 17 games to play in the regular season.

The Sea Dogs struck first against lefty Ty Blach in the third inning.  Shannon Wilkerson opened the inning and blooped a single into right-center field.  He moved to second on a groundout and stole third base.  Blach then walked Keury De La Cruz and Michael Almanzar made it 1-0 with a sacrifice-fly lined to right field.  Carson Blair then made it 2-0 with a single to centerfield.

Portland put together a two-out uprising against Blach to add a run to their lead in the fourth.  Heiker Meneses triggered the rally with a double to the right-field corner.  Wilkerson was then walked by Blach.  Meneses stole third base on ball four to put runners at the corners.  Mike Miller then cracked a single into left field to plate Meneses for a 3-0 advantage.

Meanwhile, Portland lefty Eduardo Rodriguez held off the Squirrels through the first five innings.  However, the Squirrels finally broke through in the sixth.  Devin Harris got Richmond started with a one-out single.  He moved to second a groundout and came in to score on an RBI single from Myles Schroder.  The hits for Harris and Schroder were the second for both on the evening.

The Sea Dogs recouped the run before chasing Blach in the bottom of the sixth.  Blach walked the first batter of the inning, Stefan Welch.  Welch advanced to second on a wild-pitch and to third on a groundout.  Blach then exited in favor of right-hander Jose Casilla.  Casilla hit Meneses and then conceded a sacrifice-fly to Wilkerson for a 4-1 lead.

Blach (7-7) was saddled with the loss over 5 1/3 innings.  He was charged with four earned runs on five hits.  He established a new career-high by issuing five walks.  Blach struck out three.

Rodriguez (5-7) took the win, scattering eight hits while allowing just the lone run in six innings.  He walked none and struck out seven.

De La Cruz added a solo-home run to the Portland cause in the seventh.  The shot to right came off Casilla and marked the fifth of the season for De La Cruz.

Right-hander Mike McCarthy worked two innings of scoreless relief to bridge the ballgame to the ninth.  Fellow righty Noe Ramirez had some trouble in the ninth, but stranded the bases loaded to preserve the win for Portland.

Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Hadlock Field on Saturday night. Richmond RHP Clayton Blackburn (3-5, 3.20) will make the start against Portland RHP Keith Couch (7-1, 2.97). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmupbegins at 6:30 p.m. on Sports Radio 910 and SportsRadio910.com.

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