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Squirrels win second straight from Sens
Monell, Richmond one win away from EL Championship Series
09/10/2011 10:35 PM ET
Johnny Monell hit .249 with 10 homers and 49 RBIs during the season.
Johnny Monell hit .249 with 10 homers and 49 RBIs during the season. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)
RICHMOND, Va. -- Johnny Monell may have been a 30th-round Draft pick, but he came up big for the Richmond Flying Squirrels in Game 2 in the Eastern League West Division Finals.

The 25-year-old catcher scored the go-ahead run on Juan Perez's 11th-inning single as the Flying Squirrels beat the Harrisburg Senators, 4-2, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series.

"I got a fastball up and hit it up the middle. That was the pitch I was looking for," said Perez, sitting by his locker as loud music blared in the Richmond clubhouse. Monell and Perez are both from The Bronx.

"I am a very emotional player" said Monell, who spent most of last season with Class A Advanced San Jose. "We are trying to make a push. The Giants push player development and scouting. We want to win."

Monell, drafted by the Giants in 2007, walked twice and singled in his final two at-bats to raise his postseason average to .571.

"Johnny Monell is swinging the bat as well as anybody," Richmond manager Dave Machemer said. "He is a man possessed. Johnny plays with emotion, he gives you everything he has."

The Flying Squirrels can clinch the series Sunday. Flooding in the Harrisburg area moved the entire series to Richmond, which served as the visiting team in each of the first two games.

"We have a good chance to win it with Justin Fitzerald pitching," Perez said.

Skyler Stromsmoe capped the 11th with a sacrifice fly and Heath Hembree (1-0) tossed two scoreless innings for the win.

The Senators grabbed an early 2-0 lead and got seven dominant innings from Shairon Martis. Francisco Peguero led off the first with a double, but that was the only hit allowed by the Major League veteran. He walked four and struck out nine.

Richmond rallied in the eighth against reliever Rafael Martin. Stromsmoe reached on an error by first baseman Tyler Moore and pinch-hitter Ryan Lollis lined a single to right. Both runners advanced when catcher Derek Norris made a bad throw to third following a pitch in the dirt.

Martin fanned Peguero, but Charlie Culberson plated Stromsmoe with a groundout to make it 2-1 and Monell singled home Lollis with the tying run.

Harrisburg had gotten on the board in the fourth when Norris homered over the center-field fence off Flying Squirrels starter Jason Stevenson. Moore walked, Tim Pahuta singled and Stevenson uncorked a wild pitch to give the Senators a 2-0 lead.

Stevenson, who turned 30 on Aug. 8, did not pitch from 2006-10. He signed with the Giants as a Minor League free agent and joined the Flying Squirrels a few days ago. The left-hander pitched for Machemer in 2002 at Class A Clinton and again in 2004 at Harrisburg.

In other Eastern League playoff action:
Fisher Cats 1, Phillies 0

Drew Hutchison allowed two hits and struck out six over six innings and Danny Perales lifted a sacrifice fly in the fifth to give New Hampshire a 2-1 series lead. Austin Hyatt fanned nine over seven innings in the loss for Reading. Box score

David Driver is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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