RICHMOND, VA - Ricky Oropesa drove in four runs and Justin Fitzgerald worked six strong innings as the Richmond Flying Squirrels (6-9) moseyed past the Reading Fightin' Phils, 7-1, in front of 8,824 at The Diamond on Thursday night.
The Squirrels struck first against Reading right-hander Seth Rosin (1-1) in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Mark Minicozzi drove a double off the wall in right field. A batter later, Rosin's former catcher, Andrew Susac, gave the Squirrels a 1-0 lead with a single through the hole on the left side.
Fitzgerald (1-0) kept the Fightins' off balance through the first three innings. However, with one out in the fourth, Jim Murphy tied the ballgame, 1-1, when he cracked his third home run of the year to left field.
Fitzgerald never falted after the fourth, waltzing to the win over six innings. In his first victory of the season, he allowed just the lone run on four hits, walked one and struck out nine.
Rosin was also strong into the sixth inning. However, with two outs in the sixth inning, Javier Herrera sparked the Squirrels with a single. Oropesa followed, and after working the count full, belted a two-run home run to right field. It marked Oropesa's first home run in the Eastern League and gave Richmond a 3-1 lead.
Rosin, despite turning in a quality start, was doomed to the loss. He also worked six innings, conceding three earned runs on five hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out three.
Oropesa helped the Squirrels put away the ballgame against Reading right-hander Tyler Knigge in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and one away, Oropesa launched a ground-rule double to right field, stretching the Richmond lead to 5-1. Minicozzi capped the scoring when he followed with a two-run single.
On the strength of his first two extra-base hits of the year, Oropesa drove in four runs in the ballgame. Minicozzi drove in a pair of runs - scored another - and finished the night with a pair of hits.
Game two of the four-game is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at The Diamond. LHP Ryan Bradley (0-1, 10.29) will make the start for Richmond against LHP Tom Cochran (0-0, 0.00) for the Fightin' Phils. Pregame coverage begins on SportsRadio 910, SportsRadio910.com and IHeart Radio at 6:05 p.m.