Richmond, VA (WWBT)- Left-hander Matt Packer confounded the Flying Squirrels for eight innings, as the Akron Aeros blanked Richmond, 4-0, in the opener of a three-game series at The Diamond on Friday night. It marked the eighth time on the season that the Squirrels were shut out.
The Aeros blitzed Squirrels' right-hander Justin Fitzgerald for the early lead with two outs in the first inning. Ben Copeland sparked the uprising with a single that he banked off the leg of Fitzgerald on the mound. Chun Chen followed and blasted a two-run home run to left field off a hanging 0-2 slider from Fitzgerald for a 2-0 Akron advantage.
It was the only mistake Fitzgerald made in the ballgame, but the Squirrels would never recover from it. He held the Aeros off for the next six innings, but departed to the loss after seven innings. He allowed two runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out six.
Akron put the game away against left-hander Alex Hinshaw in the eighth inning. After Hinshaw issued a pair of two-out walks, John Drennen lofted a two-run triple to center field to cap the scoring in the ballgame, 4-0.
Throughout, Packer was sensational. He allowed the Squirrels just four hits over eight innings, walked one and matched a season-high with nine strikeouts. Right-hander Tyler Sturdevant handled the ninth inning, retiring Richmond in order to complete the four-hit shutout. Packer was making his return to Virginia, as he played his college baseball at UVA from 2006-2009.
The two teams will take the field for game two Saturday night at 6:35 pm.