Rubio rules in Squirrels debut: Richmond takes series in Jersey

richmond flying squirrelsFlying Squirrels relief pitcher Frank Rubio shined in his Double-A debut as the Squirrels (30-26) bested the Trenton Thunder (34-24) 6-3 on Thursday evening at Arm & Hammer Park. Richmond’s Jerry Sands smacked his team-leading nine home run of the year to lead the offense that was actually out-hit 11-6 in the win. Richmond finished the trip 4-3 and won the series against Trenton, 2-1. The Squirrels now return home and open a seven-game homestand on Friday against the Harrisburg Senators. The first 1,500 fans will receive a free Simpsons-themed T-shirt (15+) presented by Duck Donuts. A full list of promotions coming up can be found here.

Rubio (1-0) worked four innings of relief and earned the win in his Double-A debut. The right-hander relieved starter Chase Johnson in the fifth inning and scuffled in the frame before retiring the last ten batters he faced. Closer Caleb Simpson worked the ninth to earn his ninth save of the year.

The Thunder took advantage of a few Richmond errors in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Jeff Hendrix dribbled a ball to third to start the frame and reached safely when Jonah Arenado threw low to first base. With one out, Abiatal Avelino rolled a base hit into center, putting runners at second and third base. Squirrels hurler Chase Johnson then tossed a pickoff throw off the helmet of Hendrix, advancing the runners and Ryan McBroom grounded in a run for a 1-0 Trenton Advantage.

Richmond rallied for a pair run in the third and another four runs in the fourth inning. Jeff Arnold led off the second with a walk and moved to second on a one-out base hit form Matt Lipka. Miguel Gomez then delivered an RBI single, tying the game, 1-1. The Squirrels moved ahead as the next batter Ryan Howard beat out a double play for a 2-1 Richmond advantage.

The Squirrels racked up four more runs in the fourth inning, pushing Bollinger from the game. Jerry Sands slammed a two-run shot over the left centerfield fence for a 4-1 lead. The Squirrels onslaught continued with a  walk and a single before Matt Likpa drilled a two-run double for a 6-1 lead.

Johnson lasted as season-high four innings in the no-decision. The righty, still recovering from Tommy John surgery, allowed the one run (unearned) on four hits. He walked one and struck out two. Frank Rubio relieved Johnson to start the fifth inning and was dinged for a pair of runs prior to settling in. Rubio hurried the game along with a sterling relief effort, retiring the final 10 batters he faced. Overall, Rubio tossed four innings and allowed two runs in the win.

The Flying Squirrels return to Funnville to begin a seven-game homestand on Friday at 7:05 p.m. RHP Mike Connolly (2-2, 2.94) will open the series against the Harrisburg Senators and LHP Logan Darnell (3-3, 4.10).

Friday is a Free Shirt Friday and RVA’s Best Happy Hour, presented by Duck Donuts. For tickets and promotional information, visit here or call 804-359-FUNN.

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