Shorthanded Squirrels top Rock Cats

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Flying Squirrels lost two important pitchers because of an afternoon trade.  But they still found a way to win at night.

The shorthanded Squirrels turned back New Britain 7-5 Tuesday night, slapping a three game losing streak.

Earlier in the day, the Giants traded Squirrels' right handers Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel for Astros' second baseman Jeff Keppinger.

Roger Kieschnick sparked the Squirrels with a two-out triple off of Rock Cats' starter Steve Hirschfeld in the first inning.  Chris Dominguez followed the triple into the right-field corner with a ground ball to second base.  Yangervis Solarte muffed the ball there, allowing Kieschnick to score to give the Squirrels a 1-0 lead.  The run was unearned against Hirschfeld due to the error.

The Squirrels got back after Hirschfeld to stretch their lead in the third inning.  Juan Perez led off with a clean-single into left field.  He advanced to second base on a ground out from Francisco Peguero, and scored when Charlie Culberson doubled up the right-field line.  Kieschnick made the second out of the inning, but Dominguez ripped an RBI double into the left-center field alley for a 3-0 lead.  Wes Hodges followed and plated Dominguez, capping the inning with a flare-single for a 4-0 advantage.

Left-hander Wilmin Rodriguez made an emergency spot-start for the Flying Squirrels after scheduled starter Henry Sosa was traded by the San Francisco Giants to the Houston Astros little more than an hour before game time.  He held the Rock Cats at bay through the first two innings, but Deibinson Romero put the Rock Cats on the board in the third.  He launched a mammoth solo-home run over the video board in left field to cut the Squirrels lead to 4-1.

Rodriguez (2-2) allowed a second run on an RBI single for Joe Benson in the fifth inning, but departed with a 4-2 lead.  He matched his career-high for innings pitched, going five innings for the first time since 2006 and earned his second victory of the season.

Hirschfeld recovered to retire 10 straight batters following the Richmond rally in the third inning.  However, the Squirrels finally chased him as they tacked a run back onto their lead in the seventh inning.  Perez led off with a ground-rule double down the right-field line.  A batter later, Culberson ripped an RBI double off the right-center field wall for a 5-2 lead.  Hirschfeld (6-6) took the loss, turning in 6 1/3 innings, and surrendering five runs – four earned on nine hits.

The Rock Cats got a run back against Richmond right-hander Edwin Quirarte in the seventh, but Alex Hinshaw came on to quell the threat.  The left-hander fanned both Nate Hanson and Chris Parmalee as the Rock Cats left the bases loaded, trailing 5-3.

Richmond put the game away with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning against left-hander Spencer Steedley.  Hodges led off and started a string of three consecutive singles.  Schoop followed with a single and Ryan Lormand plated Hodges with an RBI single back through the middle.  A batter later, Perez lifted a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing in Schoop for a 7-3 lead.

New Britain did make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, plating a pair of runs and leaving the tying runs in scoring position.  Hinshaw allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach, before right-hander Heath Hembree was summoned in relief.  He conceded an RBI single to Hanson and an RBI double to Parmalee before striking out Solarte looking to end the ballgame.

The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for 12:05 PM on Wednesday afternoon at New Britain Stadium.  LHP Ryan Verdugo (6-4, 3.69) will make the start for the Squirrels against LHP Blake Martin (1-2, 7.03) for the Rock Cats.