Triple play punctuates Richmond Flying Squirrels win
The Richmond Flying Squirrels (23-22) finished off a, 9-4, win over the Trenton Thunder (24-23) with an ultra-rare triple play in front of 7,042 at The Diamond on Thursday night. The triple play was the second in franchise history, and closed a win that allowed the Squirrels to split the four-game set with the Thunder.
With runners at first and second and nobody out in the top of the ninth inning, right-hander Scott Shuman delivered a 3-2 pitch to Tyler Austin. He sent a liner just to the left of shortstop Joe Panik. He snared the ball, ran it second for the second out and zipped the throw to first base to complete the triple play and the ballgame.
The Squirrels broke through first against Trenton lefty Nik Turly in the third inning. Panik led off with a single and Turly issued back-to-back walks to Adam Duvall and Mark Minicozzi to load the bases with nobody out. Javier Herrera brought in the first run of the night with a fielder’s choice bouncer that forced Duvall at third base. Turly then hit Lollis to reload the bases before Andrew Susac sent a swinging-bunt single that plated Minicozzi for a 2-0 Richmond lead.
Richmond lefty Chris Gloor had little trouble with the Thunder in the first three innings. However, Jose Pirela led off the fourth inning with a solo-home run to left field. Pirela’s third home run of the season sliced the Squirrels lead in half, 2-1.
Turley called it a night after needing 73 pitches to get through three innings. He was charged with two earned runs on three hits, walked a season-high five and struck out five. He did not factor in the decision.
Gloor was the victim of a light-aided double in the sixth inning, which allowed the Thunder to seize the lead. With one out in the inning, Tyler Austin singled. J.R. Murphy then lofted a ball to left-center field that was lost in the lights by the Richmond outfielders. It fell for a double, placing runners at second and third with one out. Gloor recovered to strike out Kyle Roller for the second out, but Slade Heathcott laced a double into left-center field to plate both runners for a 3-2 Thunder lead.
Richmond reclaimed control of the ballgame in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lefty Francisco Rondon, who relieved Turley to start the fourth inning, issued a lead-off walk to Panik. Duvall then reached on an error on third baseman Reegie Corona. Rondon walked Minicozzi before calling it an evening. Hard-throwing righty Danny Burawa entered and Herrera greeted him with a two-run double into right field. Herrera’s second hit of the night gave the Squirrels the lead back, 4-3. Lollis then dug in and blasted the first pitch from Burawa to center field. It burned Ramon Flores in center and rolled to the wall. Two more runs scored, and the Squirrels led, 6-3.
Trenton got a run back in the seventh, but Minicozzi took care of it in the bottom of the inning. With Duvall aboard, Minicozzi took Burawa exceptionally deep to left-center field. The titanic-blast, Minicozzi’s third of the year, extended the Richmond lead to 8-4.
The Squirrels capped the scoring when Panik knocked in Brett Krill in the eighth inning. In the ballgame, Panik, Herrera and Lollis each had three hits. Panik and Lollis each reached base five times and Minicozzi scored three times. Richmond did establish a new season-high for runners stranded with 16.
Gloor (3-1) earned the win over six innings. His quality start was followed by Jose Valdez, Omar Javier and Shuman, who completed the win.
The Squirrels embark for Altoona, PA, to open a four-game series with the Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates) at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Friday night. First pitch of the series-opener is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Richmond RHP Craig Westcott (2-4, 3.29) will make the start against Altoona RHP Jameson Taillon (2-5, 3.02). Pregame coverage begins on Sports Radio 910, SportsRadio910.com and IHeart Radio at 6 p.m.