Lively does it all for Fightin Phils in victory
What do the Richmond Flying Squirrels fear most about Ben Lively, his arm or his bat? After Monday's game, it might be both.
The Phillies right-hander allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings and chipped in two RBIs to lift Double-A Reading over Richmond, 6-2, at The Diamond. He struck out five and didn't issue a walk.
Five days earlier, Lively (2-0) helped pitch the Fightin Phils to a 6-4 victory over the Flying Squirrels. On Monday, the right-hander used a similar approach on the mound.
"The game plan last week was just quality pitches early in the at-bat, and I just stuck with the same plan and kept rolling," he said.
In the previous game, Lively went 2-for-2, smacking a pair of singles off second-ranked Giants prospect Tyler Beede.
"I got two hits against them last week, so I figured I had to step it up and do it again," the 24-year-old said with a laugh.
Richmond starter Kyle Crick (1-1), San Francisco's No. 17 prospect, struck out Lively to end the second inning in his first at-bat Monday, but the Central Florida University product fared better when he came to the plate in the fourth with two outs and the bases loaded. After falling behind early in the count, Lively battled back to earn a walk.
"I took two big swings early in the count, just trying to do something," he said, "Then he kept throwing balls low in the dirt and I just laid off of them."
Lively followed up the free pass with a single the other way in the sixth that plated Logan Moore, and he lined a single to center field in the seventh to cap his night. For the season, the Florida native is 4-for-5.
"I hit a lot when I was with the Reds in Pensacola [in 2014]," Lively said. "I felt like growing up I was a decent hitter. I guess I'm just seeing the ball pretty well. A couple of them were lucky hits."
Hot bat aside, Lively has looked much better on the mound in his second season with Reading since coming over to the Phillies from Cincinnati for veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd. In three starts, the 2013 fourth-round pick has a 2.00 ERA, 21 strikeouts and just two walks over 18 innings.
For Lively, the difference comes from his mind-set.
"Last year I felt more like I had to do everything myself, like I had to dominate every single inning and every single batter," he said. "But this year I'm just pitching to where I know I can pitch. I'm throwing quality strikes and getting quick innings, and everything else gets put together easy if you can do that."
No. 20 Philadelphia prospect Rhys Hoskins doubled home a pair of runs in the seventh and scored once for the Fightin Phils.
Reading reliever Jeremy Bleich gave up two hits over the final 1 1/3 innings for his first save.
Crick exited in the fifth after giving up two runs on two hits and five walks and striking out two over 4 2/3 frames.
Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21.