Squirrels Nip SeaWolves in Series Opener

Erie, PA (WWBT)- The Flying Squirrels jumped out to an early lead and held off the Erie SeaWolves, 3-1, in the opener of a three-game series at Jerry Uht Park on Monday night.

SeaWolves' right-hander and Detroit Tigers' top-prospect Jacob Turner retired the first four Squirrels that he faced. Wes Hodges was the fifth, and he gave Richmond the lead with a one-out solo-home run in the second inning. Hodges' sixth of the season was a mammoth blast to left-center field.

Sharlon Schoop doubled the Squirrels' advantage when he led off the third inning with a home run off of Turner. Schoop's second of the season was sent on a line over the left-field wall and gave Richmond a 2-0 lead.

The Squirrels tacked on another run in the fourth to stretch their lead to three runs. Roger Kieschnick doubled on Turner's first pitch of the inning and promptly stole third base. Chris Dominguez struck out, but Hodges brought in Kieschnick for a 3-0 advantage with a single into right field.

Squirrels' left-hander Ryan Verdugo didn't concede a hit to the SeaWolves through the first four innings. Erie finally picked up a hit and broke through against him for the first time in the fifth. Audy Ciriaco delivered a two-out single into left field. Deik Scram singled behind him into right field, and Ciriaco went from first to third on the play. A wild-pitch from Verdugo allowed Ciriaco to score to trim the Richmond lead to two runs, 3-1.

Verdugo returned for the eighth inning with the Squirrels still in front 3-1. He conceded an inning-opening single to Ciriaco before Scram lifted a high fly ball to center field. Juan Perez never saw it, losing the ball in the lights. It landed on the warning-track and bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Verdugo departed with runners at second and third and nobody out. Left-hander Alex Hinshaw was summoned in relief, and he grounded Bryan Holaday to third without the runners advancing for the first out. Jamie Johnson followed and lined out to short-center field. Perez made the catch and threw to the plate, but Ciriaco tagged and beat the throw to trim the lead for Richmond to a lone run. With the tying run at third and two outs, the Squirrels went back to the bullpen for right-hander Mitch Lively. Lively bounced Brandon Douglas out to second base to end the threat.

Lively returned to work a perfect ninth inning to earn his first save as a Squirrels over a perfect inning-and-a-third. Verdugo was the victor, working seven-plus innings and allowing two runs on five hits. He walked just one and struck out six for his seventh win of the year. He improves to 7-4 on the season.

Turner lasted eight innings, getting stronger as the ballgame went along, but enduring his fifth defeat of the season. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out eight.

Despite the victory, Richmond was unable to gain any ground on division-leading Harrisburg.  The Senators rolled past Bowie Monday evening, 13-2, which puts the Squirrels and Baysox in a tie for second place, both 1.5 games behind Harrisburg.  Richmond and Erie will tangle again on Tuesday at 7:05 pm.

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