Hard-hitting Squirrels give Fitzgerald support

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - One of the worst offenses in the league, the Squirrels belted three home runs, and used a great start from Justin Fitzgerald to get a 6-3 victory over Erie on Wednesday night.

The Squirrels jumped on struggling Erie starter Luke Putkonen for the lead in the bottom of the second inning.  Roger Kieschnick sparked the rally and extended his hit-streak to eight games when he led off the inning with a single back up the middle.  Johnny Monell followed and belted his fifth home run of the season to left-center field to put the Squirrels in front, 2-0.

Richmond combined short and long-ball for three more off of Putkonen in the fifth inning.  Skyler Stromsmoe led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a botched pick-off attempt.  Stromsmoe took third when Charlie Culberson put runners on the corners with a single, his third of the night.  Nick Noonan then rolled a soft-ground ball to first base.  Stromsmoe raced in for a 3-0 lead, with Noonan recording an RBI.  Juan Perez followed and unloaded on a Putkonen fastball.  The two-run drive to left field was the first of the year for Perez and put the Squirrels firmly in control, 5-0.

Fitzgerald (4-3) was already in control of his own night.  He strolled through seven scoreless innings, turning in his longest outing of the season for his fourth win.  He conceded just five hits, all singles, walked none and struck out five.

Putkonen (0-6) remained winless on the season, enduring his sixth defeat over five innings.  He permitted five runs – all earned – on seven hits.  He was touched up for two home runs, walked two and struck out one.

Left-hander David Quinowski followed Fitzgerald and struggled in relief.  He allowed four hits and three runs to the SeaWolves in his lone inning of work, as Erie climbed back into the ballgame, trailing 5-3.

Monell wasn't finished however, decking a second home run on the night off of right-hander Chance Ruffin.  The solo-shot was to right field, and marked his team-leading sixth of the season for Monell.  Right-hander Jason Stoffel polished off the win, working a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save of the season.

The finale of the four-game series is scheduled at 7:05 PM on Thursday night at The Diamond.  RHP Daryl Maday (1-3, 4.14) will make the start for the Squirrels against LHP Jay Voss (0-0, ---) for the SeaWolves.

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