Squirrels can’t bounce back in the Rubber City
Akron right-hander Jake Paulson bested Richmond southpaw Conner Menez in a well-pitched, 4-1 RubberDucks (59-40) win over the Flying Squirrels (46-51) on Saturday night at Canal Park. Menez turned in a quality start and struck out seven over 6.1 innings, but suffered the defeat. Richmond has now dropped the first three games of the series and will attempt to avoid the sweep on Sunday afternoon on in the series finale at 2:05 p.m. Richmond is currently amid a seven-game road swing and will return to The Diamond on Thursday, July 26 for Virginia Tech Night featuring Frank Beamer, driven by AAA.
Akron spoiled what was a quality outing for Menez and took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. Menez cruised through the first six frames on the night. With his pitch count rising, Menez was taken out of the contest with a pair of runners on base in the bottom of the seventh. Connor Marabell singled and Sam Haggerty worked a full count prior to walking for the final batter Menez faced. Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Richmond turned to the bullpen and brought in lefty Garrett Williams with two runners on. Ka’ai Tom greeted Williams with a go-ahead double into the gap in right. Logan Ice added an RBI base hit, placing Akron ahead 3-1.
Tom had the go-ahead/winning hit for the second consecutive night. Akron’s Henry Martinez closed out the win with a 1-2-3 ninth and picked up his 11th save in as many chances this year.
Menez (3-3) suffered the loss despite the strong outing. The southpaw lasted 6.1 innings and allowed just two runs on three hits. He struck out seven, walked two and tossed 102 pitches in the effort.
Akron’s Paulson was slightly better and took home the win on Saturday. Paulson (6-3) tossed seven innings and limited Richmond to just one run on two hits, He struck out six and walked one to earn the win.
Paulson moved through the Flying Squirrels order without a hitch over the first three innings. Paulson set the side down on 17 pitches in the first and did so again on six pitches in the second. The Eastern League All-Star needed just eight more pitches in the third, getting through the Squirrels order the first time without harm.
CJ Hinojosa promptly disrupted the rhythm of Paulson by leading off the top of the fourth with a double. Hinojosa smashed his eighth home run of the season onto the track in right center field and moved to third base on a ground out. Dylan Davis then lofted a sacrifice fly into deep right centerfield to give Richmond a 1-0 lead.
In his seventh start at Double-A, Menez motored through the Western Division leading Akron lineup. Menez allowed just four base runners in the first six innings of the outing. The lefty was in control throughout the night, stranding a hit batter in the first, a single in the third and a base hit and walk in the fourth.
Richmond continues their seven-game road trip with the game fourth and final game from Akron on Sunday afternoon at 7:05 p.m. LHP Daniel Camarena (0-0-,0.00) is scheduled to make his Flying Squirrels debut against Akron LHP Matt Whitehouse (3-1, 1.83). The Squirrels return to Funnville on Thursday, July 26 with a celebrity appearance from former Virginia Tech football head coach Frank Beamer. Beamer joins Virginia Tech Night driven by AAA. Tickets and information can be found at www.squirrelsbaseball.com or by calling 804-359-FUNN (3884)