(ERIE, PA) - When the Fightin Phils 2019 story is written, this most recent three-game series at UPMC Park will likely go down as the worst of the season. Facing a three-game sweep for the first time all year, the Fightin Phils didn't get a hit after Luke Williams led off the game with a double. Matt Manning won his 11th game in a pitchers' duel against Colton Eastman , and a first inning RBI single from Jose Azocar stood up as the SeaWolves held on for a 1-0 win. It closed out a 2-4 roadtrip, which started with last Friday's 1-0 loss in Altoona, and the Fightin Phils scoreless streak stretched to a season-high 16.2 innings.
Williams' double was the perfect opening salvo against Manning, who came into the ballgame with the second-lowest ERA in the Eastern League while leading the circuit in strikeouts and WHIP. Mickey Moniak scorched a grounder to the right side that moved Williams to third, and after a 10-pitch encounter with Alec Bohm that ended in a strikeout, Manning got Darick Hall on a hard groundout to end the inning.
Eastman used his curveball effectively all night to tame the SeaWolves red-hot lineup. The righthander started his night with a five-pitch walk to Derek Hill , who soon stole second base to get into scoring position. He tagged to third on a deep flyout to right, and with the infield drawn in, Azocar slashed a single on an 0-2 pitch for the game's only run.
After Williams' double, SeaWolves pitchers combined to retire 21 straight, with Manning (11-4) striking out three over five innings. Ethan DeCaster cruised through the sixth and seventh before the Fightins finally got the tying run on to begin the eighth against Nolan Blackwood . Josh Stephen's grounder towards first kicked off Josh Lester for an error, and Nick Maton followed with a hard smash back up the middle into center field. Stephen held initially on contact, and was subsequently thrown out at second for the force play by Azocar.
Cornelius Randolph's grounder to the right side was booted by second baseman Jon Rosoff , putting two runners on with Reading only down a run. A fielder's choice grounder up the middle by Arquimedes Gamboa got the out at second, which brought up catcher Jack Conley in the biggest at-bat of the night. Early in the count, he hooked a grounder up third that appeared to be fair, but was ruled fair by home plate umpire Chris Marco. Manager Shawn Williams' argument resulted in an ejection, and Blackwood came back to strike out Conley and keep the tying and go-ahead runs at the corners.
Eastman (1-1) permitted just five hits over six innings, allowing just the one run to lower his earned run average to 1.99. In the bullpen, Aaron Brown carried the load with two scoreless innings that featured two strikeouts and a pickoff of Lester following a two-out walk in the bottom of the eighth.
For the second straight game, SeaWolves closer Drew Carlton was tasked with getting the final three outs after earning the win in 10 innings on Wednesday night. He induced two flyouts before Bohm reached on the third error in two innings: a grounder to short that ate up Daniel Pinero to put the tying run at first. A few moments later, Hall flied out to right to end the ballgame, sending the Fightins to 0-3 in their first trip to UPMC Park.
America's Classic Ballpark is proud to be a part of Pennsylvania's Americana Region and was voted the #1 stadium in all of Double-A by MiLB's Ben Hill. Follow the Fightins on Twitter at @ReadingFightins and like them on Facebook via www.facebook.com/fightins. Purchase tickets TODAY, call or TEXT 610-370-BALL, and download the Fightins game and promotional schedule at fightins.com/calendar.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.