Squirrels win home opener
Behind seven strong innings from left-hander Jason Stevenson, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (4-4) dumped the Altoona Curve (3-3), 7-3, in front of a capacity crowd of 9,560 on Thursday night at The Diamond. The Squirrels are now 3-0 in their home openers.
The Squirrels got some help from the Curve as they jumped out front in the bottom of the second inning. Juan Perez got Richmond started with a single and Wes Hodges followed with a single to put two aboard. Daniel Mayora then sent a ground ball to Curve shortstop Brock Holt. He misplayed the chance, and the error loaded the bases. A batter later, Stevenson aided his own cause with an infield-single to the right side that brought in Perez for a 1-0 lead. Curve right-hander Mike Colla then issued a walk to Gary Brown that forced in a second run. Ehire Adrianza followed with a sacrifice-fly to center field that brought in Mayora for a 3-0 advantage. Two of the runs charged to Colla were unearned due to the error on Holt.
The Squirrels added to their lead against Colla in the third, tacking on two runs for a 5-0 cushion. Johnny Monell led off with a double down the left-field line and Perez followed with a double that scored him. Elevys Gonzalez committed an error on a ground ball from Hodges and Mayora contributed a sacrifice-fly to push home Perez.
Brock Holt finally got the Curve started against Stevenson in the fourth inning with an infield-single. Jarek Cunningham followed and attempted to bunt for a hit. Stevenson attempted to throw him out at first base but tossed errantly down the right-field line. Holt scored on the play, and Cunningham wound up all the way at third base. Cunningham scored on a ground out from Andrew Lambo. Both runs were unearned against Stevenson.
Hodges tacked a run back on for the Squirrels in the fifth when he belted the first home run of the season for the Squirrels at The Diamond. The solo-shot to left-center field was also Hodges first of the year and stretched the Squirrels’ lead to 6-2.
Colla (0-1) departed to the loss after five innings, having allowed six runs – four earned – on nine hits. He walked one and struck out two, taking his first decision of the season.
Stevenson (1-1) collected his first victory of the season, allowing just a pair of unearned runs on five hits over seven innings. He walked two and struck out five.
Chris Dominguez drove in the Squirrels final run of the night in the sixth inning. Richmond right-hander Brett Bochy worked a scoreless eighth inning of relief, striking out the side. Left-hander Tom Vessella cleaned up the win for the Squirrels, conceding a lone run but fanning Gonzalez to finish the victory.
Game two of the series is scheduled for 6:35 at The Diamond on Friday night. RHP Chris Heston (0-0, 0.00) will make the start for the Squirrels against LHP Nathan Baker (1-0, 1.80) for the Curve. Tickets are available and can be purchased at SquirrelsBaseball.com.