READING, PA - After rallying to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Reading Fightins (58-77) stunned the Richmond Flying Squirrels (68-67), 7-6, with a walk-off home run in the 10th inning. Kelly Dugan blasted a game-winning solo-home run to right-center field off of Richmond closer Cody Hall on the first pitch of the 10th, abruptly ending a ballgame the Squirrels seemingly had in hand. The loss was particularly damaging for the Squirrels as the three other teams vying for Western Division playoff spots won on Monday night. The Squirrels are now 3 ½ games out of playoff position with just seven games to play.
The Squirrels jumped on top hurriedly against Reading left-hander Bobby Bramhall, plating a run in the top of the first inning. Bramhall issued a game-opening walk to Kelby Tomlinson. Tomlinson advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches from Bramhall. Adam Duvall brought Tomlinson in with an RBI single to left field.
Richmond added three unearned runs in the second. Mark Minicozzi led off with a single. Bramhall collected the first two outs, but then walked Craig Westcott. Tomlinson then sent a groundball to the shortstop that Edgar Duran misplayed. The error loaded the bases and allowed Joe Panik to come to the plate. He sent a one-hopper to third base that was bobbled by Troy Hanzawa. The second consecutive error allowed Minicozzi to score for a 2-0 lead. Javier Herrera followed and cracked a two-run single into left field for a 4-0 lead.
The Fightins got a run back off Westcott in the bottom of the second inning. Sebastian Valle reached on an error charged to Tomlinson with one out in the inning. Hanzawa singled and a batter later Bramhall pulled an RBI single through the right side of the infield. The run was unearned against Westcott.
Richmond padded their lead with two more runs off Bramhall in the third. Angel Villalona led off with a single and an out later, Jarrett Parker also singled. Westcott struck again with an RBI single to bring home Villalona. Panik made it 6-1 with a single to knock in Parker.
Bramhall was charged with six runs - three earned - over just three innings. He permitted seven hits, walked three and struck out four. He was spared the decision with the late rally from the Fightins.
Westcott held off the Fightins into the seventh inning, but ran into trouble once there. After recording the first two outs in the frame, Westcott hit Albert Cartwright. Zach Collier followed with a triple into the right-field corner. Westcott then walked Maikel Franco to put two aboard. With Jim Murphy at the plate, Tyler LaTorre was charged with a passed ball that allowed Collie to score. Murphy then capped the inning with an RBI single to left field.
Westcott departed on Murphy's single, having conceded four runs - two earned - over 6 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits, walked three and struck out two. He did not factor in the decision.
Left-hander Josh Osich came on for Westcott in the seventh inning and recorded the final out. He stayed on to work the eighth, and also returned to start the ninth inning. He walked Anthony Hewitt to start the inning. He recovered to record the first two outs and was removed in favor of Hall. Maikel Franco blasted a two-run home run to left field off Hall with two outs to tie the game, 6-6.
Hall (2-1) took the loss for the Squirrels as right-hander Hector Neris (5-4) earned the win after working a scoreless 10th inning for Reading.
Game two of the four-game series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium on Tuesday night. Richmond LHP Jack Snodgrass (11-4, 3.49) will make the start against Reading LHP Mario Hollands (3-2, 4.80). The Flying Squirrels Pregame Warmup will begin on Sports Radio 910, www.sportsradio910.com and IHeart Radio at 6:35 p.m.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.