RICHMOND, VA - The Akron Aeros (41-45) claimed a slug-fest over the Richmond Flying Squirrels (41-44), 11-8, in front of a capacity crowd of 9,560 at The Diamond on Thursday night. The sellout was the fifth of the year for the Squirrels in their 39th opening. The five sellouts are the second most the team has boasted in their four seasons. They hosted nine capacity crowds in 2010.
The Squirrels jumped out quickly against Akron righty Brett Brach. Javier Herrera bounced his first pitch of the ballgame for a single to the left-side of the infield. Joe Panik followed with a liner into center field for a single. Brach then walked Adam Duvall to load the bases with nobody out. Mark Minicozzi forced Herrera at the plate on the front-end of a double play, and it looked like Brach may wriggle off the hook. However, Angel Villalona - in his first at-bat at The Diamond - doubled off the wall in left field, plating Panik and Duvall for a 2-0 lead.
Richmond right-hander Taylor Rogers struck out the first two batters of the second inning. However, Carlos Moncrief reached on a passed ball, opening the door for Akron. The Aeros used the opportunity as Matt Lawson followed with a double to right field. Jake Lowery then singled to right field to bring home Akron's first run. They tied the game on a ground out from Quincy Latimore. Both runs charged to Rogers were unearned in the inning.
Akron took the lead with another two unearned runs in the third inning. Rogers walked Tyler Holt, who promptly swiped second base. Rogers then endured another defensive lapse behind him as Duvall threw wildly on a ground ball from Jesus Aguilar. The throw wound up in the Richmond dugout, and Holt scored on the play. Aguilar was awarded second on the throw and scored on a single from Lawson for a 4-2 lead. All four runs surrendered by Rogers through three innings were unearned.
The Squirrels picked up three more runs against Brach to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the third inning. Herrera led off with a massive solo-home run to left field. Herrera's 12th of the season pulled the Squirrels within a run and gave Herrera the team lead. An out later, Duvall reached on an error. Minicozzi followed with a double into the left-field corner. Duvall raced all the way around to tie the game, 4-4. Brach then uncorked a pair of wild pitches. Minicozzi advanced to third base on the first and scored on the second for a 5-4 lead.
Richmond tacked on an additional run and chased Brach in the fourth. Brach walked Wagner to start the inning and he advanced to second on a groundout. Herrera recorded his third hit of the ballgame, a single, to bring him in for a 6-4 advantage.
Brach did not factor in the decision, conceding six runs - five earned - on six hits. He walked two and struck out five.
The lead was short-lived. Rogers returned for the fifth and quickly recorded the first two outs. However, Moncrief singled with two outs and Rogers walked Lawson. The walk ended his night as Richmond went to the bullpen for lefty Tom Vessella. Lowery greeted him with a massive three-run home run to right field that put the Aeros back in the lead, 7-6. Vessella hit the next batter, Latimore. Vessella was lifted and right-hander Drew Bowlin came on. He allowed back-to-back singles to Justin Toole and Jose Ramirez to bring in Latimore for an 8-6 edge.
Rogers was charged with six runs, just two of which were earned over 4 2/3 innings. He allowed five hits, walked three and struck out five.
Bowlin remained in the ballgame in the sixth inning and the Aeros got back after him. Bowlin walked Holt to start the inning. An out later, Moncrief tripled to center field to bring in Holt. Moncrief scored a sacrifice fly to left-center field from Lowery for a 10-6 lead.
The Squirrels tried to charge in the sixth inning, plating a pair of runs against Akron righty Cole Cook (2-1). Herrera drove in those two runs with his fourth hit of the night, a single into right-center field. Herrera finished the ballgame 4-for-4 with four runs knocked in. Cook earned the win over 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Vessella (3-2) took the loss for the Squirrels. Akron righty Austin Adams worked one scoreless inning of relief, and Trey Haley earned his third save of the season with two scoreless innings. The Aeros capped the scoring with a run off righty Scott Shuman in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Game two of the five-game series is scheduled for Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Richmond LHP Chris Gloor (6-3, 3.19) makes the start against Akron RHP Jordan Cooper (3-4, 3.25). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin on Sports Radio 910, SportsRadio910.com and iHeart Radio at 6:35 p.m.