(Richmond, VA) - The Fightin Phils and Flying Squirrels played a lot of close games at The Diamond last season, with Richmond coming out on top in most of them. Monday night's series opener on The Boulevard looked like it was heading that way again, with Squirrels pitchers weaving into and out of trouble at every turn. For the first seven innings, the R-Phils stranded 10 runners on base, but broke through in the eighth for a 2-1 win to end a three-game losing streak and get back to .500 at 7-7.
In a sign of things to come, the R-Phils stranded the bases loaded in the fourth. At that point, they had gotten starter Alfred Gutierrez out of the game after he hurt his leg throwing a pitch in his fourth inning of work. Earlier in the game, Austin Listi had bounced into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play in the first after Mickey Moniak doubled and Adam Haseley reached on a fielding error from first baseman Jonah Arenado .
Fightins starter Adonis Medina retired the first six batters he faced before Arenado tagged him for a leadoff triple in the third. The Phillies top pitching prospect proceeded to get the next two outs, but hit Levi Michael with a pitch and walked Ryan Howard to load the bases. After a mound visit from pitching coach Aaron Fultz, Medina got out of it when Jalen Miller lined out to first.
The Squirrels scored their lone run in the fourth when Jacob Heyward jumped the first pitch he saw to center for his first home run and a 1-0 lead. For the third straight start, Medina would receive a no decision by going five, allowing just the one run on three hits with three strikeouts. Meanwhile, the offense continued to threaten, but was unable to score for most of the night despite all the runners on base.
In four of their first seven innings, the R-Phils got a leadoff base hit but were unable to do anything with it. The seventh was the toughest after Josh Stephen singled through the right side off Tyler Cyr . Pinch-hitter Raul Rivas worked a walk, and an Ali Castillo sacrifice bunt pushed the tying and go-ahead runs into scoring position with just one out. Moniak looked like he had tied it up with a groundout to second, but catcher's interference re-loaded the bases with just one out. Cyr recorded the last two outs with a strikeout and a flyout to right, sending the R-Phils to the eighth still down 1-0.
Darick Hall led off against Kieran Lovegrove and crushed an 0-2 offering off the advertising in right for his second homer to tie the score. Henri Lartigue followed with a four-pitch walk, and soon got to second when Lovegrove's pickoff attempt missed the mark. A strikeout and a groundout to the right side got Lartigue to third base, and Luke Williams came off the bench with a clutch pinch-hit single to score the run and give Reading its first lead.
Kyle Dohy's dominant start to the season continued by striking out the first five batters he faced before getting Miller to ground out to short for the two-inning save and a 2-1 Fightins win. Jakob Hernandez' first win and Listi's first two-hit game backed Hall, who also hit a leadoff double in the second inning.
America's Classic Ballpark is proud to be a part of Pennsylvania's Americana Region. Season tickets for the 2019 season are available online at Fightins.com, by phone at 610-370-BALL, and in-person at the Weidenhammer Ticket Office at FirstEnergy Stadium. Follow the Fightin Phils on Twitter at @ReadingFightins, Instagram at @fightins, 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.