Squirrels fall short in Trenton
The Richmond Flying Squirrels (34-36) had two comebacks in them, but a third eluded them, as they dropped the opener in Trenton, 3-2, to the Thunder (40-28) on Tuesday night at Waterfront Park. The Squirrels were attempting to return to .500 for the season, but instead fell to eight games under .500 away from Richmond.
Richmond right-hander Craig Westcott walked the lead-off batter in the first inning, and it cost him. Abraham Almonte drew the walk and advanced to second base on a wild-pitch from Westcott. A single from Jose Pirela followed and the Thunder had runners on the corners with nobody out. David Adams lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Thunder an early 1-0 lead.
The Squirrels answered quickly in the top of the second inning against Trenton righty Mikey O’Brien. Russ Mitchell led off with a single and Juan Perez singled on the next pitch to put two aboard. Mark Minicozzi bounced into a fielder’s choice to put runners at the corners, and Juan Ciriaco tied the ballgame with a single to left field.
The ballgame remained tied until the bottom of the fifth inning when Luke Murton led off against Westcott. He belted his 11th home run of the season to center field. The solo-home run put Trenton in front, 2-1. It marked just the second home run Westcott had allowed on the season.
O’Brien worked six innings and didn’t factor in the decision. He allowed just a lone run on four hits, walked three and struck out four. Westcott also worked six innings on the night and didn’t register a decision. He allowed two runs – one earned – on five hits, walked three and struck out one.
Richmond tied it back up in the seventh inning when Gary Brown doubled with one out against right-handed reliever Ricky Orta. Brown tagged and advanced to third on a fly out to right field and scored to level the ledger on a wild-pitch from Orta.
The Thunder forged back ahead for good with a run in the eighth inning. Left-hander Tom Vessella, who had worked a scoreless seventh inning, started the inning on the hill. He walked A. Almonte to lead off the inning and was quickly lifted in favor of right-hander Daryl Maday. Pirela bunted Almonte to second. Maday got the second out, but Melky Mesa bounced a single through the left-side of the infield. Almonte raced in from second with the decisive run in the ballgame.
The run was charged to Vessella (2-1), who was tagged with his first loss of the season. Orta (1-0) earned the win over two innings in his Thunder debut. Right-hander Ryan Flannery collected his eighth save of the season, working a perfect ninth inning.