Squirrels fall to RubberDucks in another walk-off

richmond flying squirrelsAkron RubberDucks outfielder Kaa’ai Tom launched a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, sinking the Squirrels in the last at bat for the second consecutive night. Akron (58-40) celebrated a 5-4 win over the Flying Squirrels (46-50) despite Richmond out-hitting the “Ducks for the second straight game (10-8). Aramis Garcia connected on three hits in the loss for Richmond and Ryan Howard drilled his second home run of the year to pace the offense. The two teams play game three of the four game set on Saturday night at 7:05 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.

Another see-saw affair from Canal Park fell in favor of the RubberDucks on Friday night. Tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Ryan Halstead returned to the mound for his third inning of relief. Halstead retired the first batter Willie Castro before Ka’ai Tom launched the game-winning home run. Tom’s ninth dinger of the season gave Akron the win, 5-4. Halstead (3-3) suffered the loss. He allowed just the one run in 2.1 innings worked.

The Tom homer made a winner out of ‘Ducks reliever David Speer. The lefty Speer entered with a 4-3 lead and the bases loaded In the seventh inning. Speer entered with the game on the line and struck out pinch-hitter Dylan Davis to end the threat. However, as a surprise to no one, Richmond again tied the game – this time in the eighth inning. Garcia slapped a leadoff single – his third hit of the day – into right field. Jonah Arenado followed with a yanked base hit into right and a sacrifice bunt and fly brought home Garcia to tie the game, 4-4.

The Squirrels took their only lead in of the game in the top of the sixth inning. Facing Cleveland Indians top prospect Tristan McKenzie, Garcia drilled a go-ahead two-run homer over the left field fence to give Richmond a 3-1 lead. Garcia’s 10th home run of the season knocked McKenzie from the game after 5.1 innings worked. The righty allowed three runs on six hits in the no-decision. He struck out seven and walked two.

Once more the lead was not safe as Akron rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to retake the lead. Andrew Calica led off the sixth with a base hit and Tyler Krieger followed by dumping a double into shallow right centerfield. After Heston retired the next batter on a pop up, Connor Marabell turned the tide once again by launching a three-run homer over the right centerfield fence. Marabell’s 11th home run of the year pushed Akron ahead, 4-3. Heston worked three innings of relief in his second appearance with the Squirrels this season.

Flying Squirrels starter Jose Flores retire the side in order over the first two innings against his former team. Ka’aa Tom disrupted the Flores rhythm to start the bottom of the third, looping a base hit into right field. Tom took second on a ground ball out and came around to score the game’s first run on a flare bae hit into shallow left field.

Flores finished off the third inning to end his spot start for Richmond. The burly right-hander allowed just the one run on two hits. He struck out three and did not walk a batter. Flores tossed 46 pitches and received a no-decision.

As was the case on Thursday, Richmond quickly countered to tie the game on Friday. Ryan Howard took the first pitch of the fourth inning over the left field fence, tying the game, 1-1. The home run for Howard was his second of the year and his first since April 10 in Hartford.

Richmond continues their seven-game road trip with game three from Akron on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. LHP Conner Menez (3-02 4.32) is scheduled to make the start for the Squirrels against Akron RHP Jake Paulson (5-3, 2.93). 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)

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