(Richmond, VA) - With the first leg of their first roadtrip in the rearview mirror, the Fightin Phils battled for the second straight day, but came up just short at The Diamond. After an hour rain delay halted play in the bottom of the sixth, the Flying Squirrels broke a 4-4 tie on Matt Lipka's first home run of the season to make it 6-4. True to their name, the Fightins scored in the eighth and ninth to tie the score, but veteran Jerry Sands ended it with a ninth inning single for a 7-6 win.
Franklyn Kilome came out of the gate sharp, retiring the side in order on just 11 pitches before surrendering the game's first run in the bottom of the second. With runners at first and second and no outs, Lipka flied out to Jan Hernandez in right for the first out. With Luigi Rodriguez trying to tag to third, Hernandez skipped a throw past the bag and out of play to give Richmond the first lead for the third straight day.
In the third, Malquin Canelo's second hit in as many at bats was a booming home run to left for his first longball and the Fightins first run of the afternoon. Squirrels starter Garrett Williams then got more run support in the home half when Ryan Howard's two out double brought in a run and Rodriguez followed with a hard triple to the wall in left center to make it 3-1.
Kilome bounced back and got inning-ending double plays in the next two innings to face the minimum in the fourth and fifth. At that point, Reading had gained the lead in the top of the fifth, which started when Zach Coppola's speed forced shortstop Ryan Howard to commit an error on a ball in the hole. A walk to Canelo and an infield single by Damek Tomscha loaded the bases with no outs, and a passed ball got the Fightins within a run at 3-2. Another walk to Zach Green ended Williams' day, and back-to-back sacrifice flies from Jiandido Tromp and Hernandez put the Fightins in front 4-3.
Trailing 6-4 in the top of the eighth, Deivi Grullon extended his hitting streak to five with a single into left field for his seventh run batted in to make it 6-5. With runners at the corners and no outs, Heiker Meneses flied out to center and Ronnie Jebavy's catch-and-throw to the plate nabbed Hernandez trying to tag up with the tying run. Needing another run in the ninth, Coppola set the table with a walk and a stolen base. Tomscha then lined a single back up the middle, and Coppola's speed was once again a factor as he slid in behind the tag after another close throw from Jebavy.
The Flying Squirrels got to work right away in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with two walks and a pinch-hit single from Miguel Gomez . With the infield in and the count 2-0, Sands smacked a base hit into left to give Richmond (7-3) the sweep.
America's Classic Ballpark is proud to be a part of Pennsylvania's Americana Region. Season tickets for the 2018 season are available online at Fightins.com, by phone at 610-370-BALL, and in-person at FirstEnergy Stadium. Follow the Fightin Phils on Twitter at @ReadingFightins and like them on Facebook via www.facebook.com/fightins.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.