RICHMOND, VA - For the second time on their current home stand, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (67-66) were swept in a doubleheader. The Altoona Curve (61-72) won game one, 3-2, and routed Richmond in game two, 13-1. The pair of losses for the Squirrels, coupled with a Harrisburg win over Erie, dropped the Squirrels to three games back in the wild-card race.
The Curve broke through first in game one, plating a run against left-hander Chris Gloor in the top of the third. Mel Rojas Jr. triggered the inning when he doubled to the alley in right-center field with one out. An out later, Alen Hanson rifled a triple to left-center field to bring in the first run of the night.
The Squirrels hurriedly tied the game with a run in the bottom of the third. Joe Panik reached on an error with one out in the inning. Javier Herrera followed and drilled a double off the wall in left-center field. Panik scored from first base to even the ballgame, 1-1.
Altoona manufactured a run to reclaim the lead in the fifth inning. Gloor hit the lead-off batter, Drew Maggi. He promptly swiped second base and advanced to third when Carlos Paulino flied out deep to right-center field. The Squirrels elected to walk Rojas to get to Kingham at the bottom of the order. Kingham laid down a squeeze bunt as Maggi broke for the plate and scored for a 2-1 lead.
Once again, the Richmond response was immediate. Kingham walked Ryan Lollis with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Panik followed and blistered a double to straightaway center field. Lollis scampered around to tie the game, 2-2.
Kingham departed to a no-decision during the fifth inning. He was charged with two runs - one earned - on four hits. He worked around five walks in part by striking out eight.
The Curve scored the decisive run off Gloor in the top of the seventh inning. Maggi delivered a one-out single to left field. Paulino followed and drilled a double off the base of the wall in center field. Maggi came all the way around with the winning run.
Left-hander Jhonathan Ramos (3-2) earned the win by tossing a perfect inning-and-a-third. Right-hander Luis Sanz earned his 16th save of the season by working a routine seventh inning.
Gloor (9-7) took the loss despite a quality start of 6 2/3 innings. He surrendered three earned runs on seven hits, walked none and struck out five.
The Curve also struck for the first time in the third inning of game two. Hanson got things started with a lead-off single off of right-hander Taylor Rogers. A batter later, Gregory Polanco cracked an RBI double through the alley in left-center field.
Things unraveled for the Squirrels in the fourth inning as the Curve scored seven runs against four different Richmond pitchers. Rogers started the inning and walked two of the first three batters. He was lifted in favor of right-hander Drew Bowlin. Bowlin got the second out of the inning, but permitted an RBI single to Adalberto Santos. Lefty Phil McCormick was summoned and walked back-to-back batters to force in a run. He hit another to bring in another run. Andy Vasquez then cracked a bases-clearing triple to the right-field corner. Ali Solis followed with an RBI single. McCormick was removed after facing five batters and not recording an out. Right-hander Jose Valdez came on and an error on Panik capped a disastrous frame, allowing a seventh run to score.
Rogers (5-9) was tagged with the loss, his ninth of the year. He was charged with three earned runs on six hits, walked two and struck out three. Bowlin was charged with a run, while McCormick was charged with four.
Altoona tacked on additional run to take a 9-0 lead against Valdez in the fifth inning. Polanco knocked in the run with an RBI double to left-center field. The run was unearned and was charged to Valdez. The Curve capped the scoring for the evening with four runs off lefty Ryan Bradley in the sixth inning.
Curve right-hander Casey Sadler (11-6) was in control throughout the second game. He breezed through six innings, and worked into the seventh. He conceded his only run of the night when Lollis doubled home Kelby Tomlinson.
The finale of the four-game series is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at The Diamond. Richmond LHP Edwin Escobar (4-3, 2.98) will make the start against Altoona RHP David Bromberg (6-10, 3.17). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin on Sports Radio 910, www.sportsradio910.com and iHeart Radio at 1:35 p.m.