Richmond Flying Squirrels drop season opener in Trenton
Richmond Flying Squirrels outfielder Dylan Davis cranked the first home run of the 2018 season on Opening Night in Trenton in a 5-2 loss to the Thunder. Davis gave the Squirrels an early 2-0 lead that failed to stand due to five unanswered runs. The Thunder scored the go-ahead run on an error in the seventh inning and pulled away on a two-run shot from Billy Flemming.
With the game tied, 2-2 in the eighth inning, Chris Gittens doubled on a 3-2 pitch to right field. Gittens advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error. Two batters later Flemming drilled his two-run homer to make it a 5-2 contest. Ryan Halstead (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing all three unearned runs with two outs.
Cory Taylor earned the Opening Day start for Richmond and lasted 4.2 innings in a no-decision. Taylor allowed five hits, two runs and struck out five. Reliever Dusten Knight entered to replace Taylor in the fifth and struck out a batter, stranding a runner to close Taylor’s line. Knight stayed on for the sixth inning and struck out the side. In his Richmond debut, Knight recorded four outs, all via the strikeout.
Davis started the season’s scoring in the top of the second with a two-run blast off the left field wall. Jerry Sands led off the second with a walk, setting up the first runs of the year for Richmond. Davis, who crunched ten home runs last year in a Squirrels uniform, launched a liner off the wall in left field. The Squirrels scored early on Yankees pitching prospect Domingo Acevedo. The 6-7 righty settled in after the homer, retiring eight consecutive batters into the fifth inning.
Acevedo also received a no-decision, tossing 5.1 innings in the opener. He was pulled after 79 pitches with runners on the corners in a tie game. Thunder reliver Erik Swanson was called upon to replace Acevedo and struck out a pair of batters to keep the game tied.
Swanson (1-0) earned the win by finishing the game. He hurled 3.1 innings of relief, striking out six along the way.
The two teams will play game two of the year on Friday at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, NJ. RHP Shaun Anderson gets the start for Richmond against Trenton LHP Justus Sheffield. The Squirrels will return home on April 13 for the home opener at The Diamond. The team is pushing for their ninth consecutive Opening Night sellout crowd. Limited tickets for the event that featured dueling fireworks and Fred McGriff remain by contacting the box office at 804-359-3866 or online at squirrelsbaseball.com.