Squirrels snap ‘Ducks 10-game winning streak
Flying Squirrels left-hander Matt Gage earned his team-leading ninth victory of the season as he paved the way for the Squirrels (55-75), in a 7-4 win over Akron (68-61) on Thursday night at Canal Park. Gage tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings and six-time MLB All-Star Joe Nathan closed out the contest for his second save of the year. The victory ended the Squirrels three-game skid and also erased Akron’s 10-game winning streak.
Gage was exceptional in his 22nd start of the year for Richmond. The southpaw kept the Akron offense in hibernation throughout his 6 2/3 shutout innings of work. Gage pitched with multiple runners on base just once and lowered his ERA to 3.56, 7th best in the league. Gage yielded only three hits and from the third to the sixth inning did not allow a hit. It was the fourth start this season that Gage did not allow a run to score. The Siena product received two clutch double play balls as well to aid his cause.
The third inning was the spark for the Squirrels as Jeff Arnold singled with one out to ignite the offense. Leadoff hitter Darren Ford hit a high bouncing ball towards third base and reached on a fielding error. With one out, Christian Arroyo hammered a ball off the left field wall and that scored Arnold. The extra base hit was contagious as Hunter Cole crushed the first pitch in the next at-bat for a two-run double, and after three stanzas the Squirrels jumped out to a 3-0 advantage.
The Richmond lead continued to balloon in the fourth inning. C.J. Hinojosa and Jeff Arnold both doubled to keep the offense rolling. Arnold’s two-bagger brought home two runs for a 5-0 lead after four innings. The early onslaught knocked Akron starting pitcher Nick Pasquale out of the game after just 3 1/3 innings of work. Pasquale (2-7) took the loss and surrendered seven hits and five runs. It was the right-hander’s shortest outing of the season.
The Squirrels racked up five doubles, which was just one shy of tying a game high (six doubles against Bowie on July 15).
Tyler Horan put the Squirrels on the board again in the eighth inning. The left fielder smashed his 10th home run, a two run shot over the right field wall as Richmond extended its lead to 7-0.
The RubberDucks made things interesting in the bottom of the eighth inning. Akron rallied for four runs the frame. Squirrels reliever Tyler Mizenko allowed three hits and a walk to let Akron back in the contest. Jordan Smith delivered a two-run double and Nellie Rodriguez singled to force the Squirrels back into the bullpen. Jose Casilla entered and allowed a pair of inherited runners to score, but worked out if the inning with the lead still intact.
Casilla was replaced by Joe Nathan in the ninth and Nathan retired all three batters he faced. It was the second save for Nathan since joining the Squirrels and it ended the team’s three game losing streak.