Arroyo helps Squirrels reach historic heights

Giants top prospect plates final two in team-record 12-run fifth inning

Christian Arroyo is batting .274 with three homers and 44 RBIs in 115 games with Richmond. (Patrick Cavey/MiLB.com)

By Alex Kraft / MiLB.com | August 28, 2016 1:59 AM

Christian Arroyo remembered exactly what he and his Double-A Richmond teammates said before the inning began.

"[Starter Nestor] Molina gave up a home run [to Jeremy Lucas in the fourth] and we were like, 'Well, now it's our turn to score,'" Arroyo said.

They did just that. And a whole lot more.

The Giants' top prospect went 2-for-5, drove in three runs and helped engineer a team-record 12-run fifth inning Saturday night as the Flying Squirrels routed Akron, 13-3, at Canal Park.

Arroyo staked Richmond to an early lead with a solo shot to left field in the first, his third Eastern League homer and first since May 23.

"I kind of lost the feeling of what it was like to round the bases and just jog them," the 21-year-old shortstop said with a laugh. "On that one, I was kind of busting it out of the box and when I finally saw the [left] fielder hit the wall and I knew it was over, I tried to slow down a little bit. It was a good feeling, but hopefully, I can work on that trot a little bit."

Arroyo lined to center for the first out in the fourth. He was scheduled to bat seventh in the fifth, which gave him a chance to watch as the biggest inning in team history began to unfold.

"C.J. [Hinojosa] leads it off with a hit, then a walk. There's a hard-hit ball here, hard-hit ball there and another walk and, all of a sudden, you have a two-RBI single and things are kind of snowballing," the Florida native said.

When he finally came to the plate, Arroyo grounded to second for the first out of the frame. His teammates granted him another chance not longer after, and MLB.com's No. 88 overall prospect lashed a two-run single into left field for the inning's final runs. When he returned to the dugout after Hunter Cole grounded out to end it, his teammates offered some playful ribbing.

"Brandon Bednar, after my second at-bat of the inning, he was like, 'I was praying for you, buddy,'" Arroyo said. "I didn't know what he was trying to say at the time, but later, I realized he didn't want to see me make two outs in the same inning."

The outburst seemed to provide the Flying Squirrels, who had lost six of their previous nine games, with just the lift they needed.

"It was a huge inning for us as a team," Arroyo said. "It's been a long year. We've been kind of grinding it out and to have a big inning like that … it just felt good as a team."

The night served the same purpose for Arroyo as he looks to turn things around before the season ends. The 2013 first-round pick was batting .221 in his previous 22 games with four extra-base hits.

"Winding down these last few weeks, I'm just going to try and finish strong and build off these last nine games and go into the offseason with a good outlook," Arroyo said. "Then just try to get better."

Tyler Horan and Steven Lerud each drove in three runs for Richmond, while third-ranked Giants prospect Chris Shaw doubled and scored once.

Molina (2-0) claimed the victory after giving up two runs on six hits while fanning five over five frames.

RubberDucks starter D.J. Brown (8-7) surrendered six runs -- five earned -- on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts in four-plus innings.

Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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