Funnville - Richmond's Jerry Sands delivered a game-winning base hit to left field in the bottom of the ninth to complete a 7-6 win and three-game sweep of Reading (3-7) on Sunday afternoon at The Diamond. The Flying Squirrels (7-3) are off to their best start through ten games in franchise history and will welcome in the Bowie Baysox for a four-game series beginning on Monday. A preview of promotions for the series can be found here.
Tied 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth, Matt Lipka worked a walk to open the frame against reliver Seth McGarry. Pinch-hitter Miguel Gomez followed with a base hit and Ronnie Freeman walked to load the bases with no one out. Sands then lined the game-winner into left field to finish off the three-game sweep of Reading. It was the first at bat of the game for Sands who came in as part of a double switch in the seventh. McGarry (0-1) suffered the loss for Reading.
Caleb Simpson (1-0) earned the win, but was also saddled with a blown save for allowing a run in the ninth. Reading managed to tie the game off Simpson due to a leadoff walk and stolen base. Damek Tomscha pushed a base hit into centerfield to tie the game. Simpson then allowed a base hit to Zach Green prior to striking out a pair to keep the game tied.
Richmond emerged from a 61-minute rain delay in the sixth inning with three runs to overcome a 4-2 deficit. Jonah Arenado cranked a double into left field to tie the game at four and Lipka followed with the two-run homer over the left field wall. Luigi Rodriguez started the three-run inning by reaching on an infield single off reliever Tyler Gilbert.
The delay ended the outing prematurely for reading starting pitcher Franklyn Kilome. The Phillies No. 10 prospect kept Richmond of balance and ended his outing by striking out Ryan Howard before the tarp was placed on the field. Killome receive a no-decision and lasted 5.1 innings with six strikeouts and just three hits allowed. He yielded three runs (two earned) on 87 pitches.
The Squirrels once again struck first in the contest by taking advantage of a Reading error. Luigi Rodriguez led off the second inning with a walk and advanced to second on a slashed base hit into right field from Jonah Arenado. Matt Lipka then lifted fly ball out to right and Rodriguez broke for third base to tag up. The throw bounced off the infield and into the netting over the third base dugout, allowing Rodriguez to score for a 1-0 lead.
Malquin Canelo tied the game in the third inning with a solo home run to left field. The Flying Squirrels snapped the 1-1 tie with a pair of runs in the third. Ronnie Jebavy worked a walk to open the inning against Reading's prospect hurler Franklyn Killome. After Killome punched out Ali Castillo, Ryan Howard laced a double to left field for a 2-1 Richmond lead. The double extended Howard's hitting streak to seven games. Luigi Rodriguez then belted a triple in the gap in right centerfield to make it a 3-1 score.
Reading responded with three in the fifth to force starting pitcher Garrett Williams from the game Reading scored a run and loaded the bases with an error, walk and base hit. A wild pitch forced in the second run for the Phils. Williams walked Zach Green to reload the bases and he was removed in favor of reliever Jacke McCasland. McCasland yielded a pair of sacrifice flies and stranded a runner to end the inning with reading on top, 4-3.
Williams lasted four innings and allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits in the no-decision. The lefty tossed 84 pitches and walked five while striking out three. It took Williams just five pitches to settle into The Diamond mound. The lefty's first five pitches missed the strike zone and the second batter of the game reached on an infield hit. Williams then dialed in and retired the next eight hitters
- Ryan Howard entered the contest with a .371 average, good for 5th in the Eastern League.
- Garrett Williams the first five pitches in the outing out of the zone. He walked the leadoff man and allowed an infield hit before retiring the next eight batters
- Arenado's base hit in the second inning came on an 0-2 pitch. His double in the sixth was also on an 0-2 offering.
- Ryan Howard has hit safely in seven consecutive games. Howard has only been hitless sin one contest this year, Opening Night in Trenton.
- Matt Lipka worked another pair of walks on Sunday. The speedster walked nine times and leads the league.
- Lipka's go-ahead homer was his first as a Squirrel. He had nine last season with the Down East Wood Ducks in the Carolina League.
- The walkoff was the first for Richmond in 2018.
- Caleb Simpsons blown save was the first of the year for the Squirrels. Team had been 6-6 in save opportunities.
The homestand continues on Monday at 6:35 with RHP Cory Taylor on the mound against the Bowie Baysox. Ticket are available by contacting the box office at 804-359-3866 or online at squirrelsbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.