Squirrels end losing streak vs. Curve

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Flying Squirrels were well on their way to another loss, until they finally started getting some breaks.  Richmond scored on seven unanswered runs to snap a four-game losing streak with a 7-3 win over Altoona Thursday.

In the sixth inning, down 3-0 Richmond scored runs on a balk, a wild pitch, a fielder's choice and an error to take a one run lead.  They added some insurance with three runs in the eighth.

Squirrels' right-hander Justin Fitzgerald worked his way into trouble in the top of the first inning when he issued three walks to load the bases with two outs.  The walks were received by Brock Holt, Tony Sanchez and Miles Durham.  Quincy Latimore then sent a grounder to the hole on the left-side of the infield.  Shortstop Nick Noonan made a diving stop of the ball, but had no play.  However, in an attempt to get an out at second base, Noonan threw wildly into right field.  Two runs scored on the play, with Holt and Sanchez coming in to give the Curve a 2-0 lead.  Latimore was credited with an infield-single and an RBI.  The second run was unearned due to the throwing error.

Altoona added a run to their advantage in the top of the third inning.  Sanchez started the inning and lined a single on the first pitch from Fitzgerald.  Sanchez moved to second on a groundout and scored to push the Curve lead to three runs when Latimore singled into left field.

Fitzgerald departed after 4 1/3 innings and didn't factor in the decision.  He conceded three runs – two earned – on eight hits.  He walked four and struck out three.  Meanwhile, Curve left-hander Aaron Thompson was sensational through five innings, shutting out the Squirrels on two hits.  He retired 11 consecutive batters through the end of the fifth inning.

The Richmond rally finally came in the sixth inning, as Aaron Lowenstein led off with a single off Thompson.  A batter later, Justin Christian singled to put runners at the corners.  Thompson then committed a balk to bring in Richmond's first run of the night.  Christian stole third base following the balk and scored when Thompson uncorked a wild-pitch.  Thompson walked the next two batters before Joe Koshansky singled to load the bases.  Jose Flores tied the game when he reached on a fielder's choice and the Squirrels grabbed the lead, 4-3, when Curve first baseman Miles Durham misplayed a grounder from Juan Perez.

Thompson (2-1) departed during the sixth inning, but was charged with all four runs – three earned.  He took his first loss of the season over 5 1/3 innings.

Right-hander Ronnie Ray (1-1) was tremendous in relief, working 3 2/3 innings for his first win of the season.  He stretched from the fifth through the eighth, retiring the first nine batters he faced.  He allowed just one hit and struck out four.

The Squirrels put the game out of reach with three runs charged to Curve right-hander Mike Colla in the bottom of the eighth inning.  The uprising included RBI singles from Lowenstein and Christian.  Richmond closer Jason Stoffel secured the win by working a scoreless ninth inning.

Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for 6:35 PM on Friday night at The Diamond.  LHP Clayton Tanner (0-2, 7.00) will make the start for the Squirrels against RHP Jared Hughes (0-1, 3.60) for the Curve.