Reading, PA - The Flying Squirrels (4-6) collected 11 hits and drilled three home runs on Saturday afternoon, but dropped the series finale in Reading 7-6. Chris Shaw hammered his third home run of the season and T.J. Bennett and Slade Heathcott each added solo shots in the loss. Richmond pitchers issued a season-high 11 walks in the defeat. The Squirrels are off on Sunday and open a four-game series in Bowie on Monday.
The control issues for the Squirrels staff were present from the get-go. Richmond starting pitcher Cory Taylor took a moment to get settled on the mound and walked the leadoff man Scott Kingery to begin the first inning. Kingery then stole second base and scored on a single up the middlefrom Andrew Pullin. Taylor was able to correct quickly and stuck out the side to finish the first.
Reading (4-5) made it a 2-0 contest by taking advantage of another walk to start the second inning, this time to Mitch Walding. Aaron Brown advanced Walding with a base hit and Taylor delivered a wild pitch to allow the second run of the game. Oddly enough, the first six outs Taylor recorded were by strikeout.
The Squirrels rebounded to grab a brief lead in the top of the third inning. Slade Heathcott drilled a solo home run on the first pitch from Shane Watson to cut the deficit, 2-1. With two outs, Watson walked Miguel Gomez, allowing Chris Shaw to continue his assault on Reading. Shaw pounded a go-ahead two-run homer of the right center field wall to give Richmond a 3-1 lead. It was the second home run of the series for Shaw and his third of the season.
Reading returned fire to retake the lead in the bottom of the third inning. Taylor continued to struggle with his command and walked Jiandido Tromp with two outs in the third. Walding followed that with a two-run blast over the right field wall to give Reading a 4-3 lead. Taylor returned to start the fourth inning, but walked a pair of batters after getting the first two outs. Matt Lujan then entered to strand the runners and keep the game intact. Taylor walked six and struck out seven over 4 1/3 innings pitched.
Reading starter Shane Watson received a no-decision over 4 1/3 innings of work. The righty was removed for reliever Mario Hollands with a runner on second base and one out in the fifth. Hollands (1-0) walked the first two hitters he faced before Adam Sonabend tied the game, 4-4, with a ground ball out towards first.
The Squirrels turned back to the bullpen to start the sixth inning and summoned lefty Christian Jones. Jones punched out the first hitter he faced, but walked Harold Martinez and yielded a two-run homer to second baseman Scott Kingery for a 6-4 Reading lead. Jones (0-2) tossed two innings in the loss.
T.J. Bennett smacked his first Double-A homer in the seventh inning off reliever Alexis Rivero to pull Richmond back to within one. However Reading once again countered with a run on three walks and a base hit in the bottom of the seventh off of Pat Young.
The Squirrels scored their final run to make it a 7-6 game on an eventful play in the eighth inning. With Slade Heathcott at second and Rando Moreno at third base, Miguel Gomez hit an infield single to first base. Moreno scored on the play and Heathcott came charging to home for the potential tying run, but was ruled out as he collided with the catcher. The catcher dropped the ball but the umpire ruled Heathcott out as a result of the catcher collision rule.
Miguel Nunez finished off the ninth inning to earn his second save of the season and give the series to Reading.
The Flying Squirrels are off on Sunday and then willcontinue their first road trip of the season on Monday in Bowie, MD. Left-hander Matt Gage (0-0, 1.80) is scheduled to throw against Bowie RHP Mathews Grimes (0-1, 3.00). The flying Squirrels return to The Diamond on Friday, April 21st against Reading. Season tickets, mini plans and group outings are available by contacting the Flying Squirrels box office at 804-359-3866 or online at www.squirrelsbaseball.com
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.