Squirrels falter in important game

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The final week of the regular season began for the Squirrels Tuesday. With a couple more nights like this one, there surely will be no postseason to speak of.

Propelled by a seven-run second inning, the New Britain pummeled Richmond 12-3 at The Diamond.  Despite the loss, the Squirrels remain a half-game behind the Bowie Baysox for the wild-card spot in the Western Division, as the Baysox also lost on Tuesday.

The Rock Cats offered a glimpse of the carnage that was to come in the top of the first inning.  Brian Dozier bunted the second pitch of the ballgame from Richmond left-hander Chuck Lofgren for a single up the third-base line.  Chris Dominguez compounded the trouble for Lofgren when he fanned on the throw, offering inadvertently into the Richmond dugout.  Yangervis Solarte single to move Dozier to third, and Joe Benson gave the Rock Cats they would never surrender with a sacrifice-fly into center field.  The run was unearned against Lofgren.

The first turned out to be just the tip-of-the-iceberg for New Britain, as they posted the most destructive inning of the season against the Squirrels in the second inning.  Lofgren walked Mike Hollimon to start the inning, and things snowballed from there.  Mark Dolenc followed with a single, and Lofgren walked Danny Lehmann to load the bases with nobody out.  Chris Cates laid down a perfect bunt-single to plate the first run of the inning.  Dozier then stepped in and launched the first grand slam of the season against Richmond over the left-field wall for a 6-0 lead.  Lofgren then walked Solarte before being lifted in favor of right-hander Austin Fleet.  Fleet surrendered back-to-back singles to Benson and Chris Parmalee to reload the bases.  Evan Bigley delivered a sacrifice-fly, and Hollimon capped the inning with a sacrifice-fly.  The Rock Cats exited the inning with an 8-0 advantage.

Lofgren (3-2) was saddled with the loss over an inning-plus-six-batters.  He conceded seven runs – six earned – on five hits.  In his shortest outing as a Squirrel, he walked three and struck out two.

Meanwhile, New Britain right-hander Bobby Lanigan (8-9) had little trouble with the Squirrels, earning the win over six innings.  He allowed just a lone run on five hits.  He walked none and struck out six.

Fleet pitched well in relief, but did concede another tally to the Rock Cats in the sixth inning.  All told, Fleet worked 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and a pair of earned runs.

The Squirrels did finally get to Lanigan in the bottom of the sixth inning.  Dominguez pulled an RBI double down the left-field line to bring in Darren Ford, who had singled.  The infield-single for Ford earlier in the inning had stretched his personal hit-streak to eight games.

New Britain pounded in the final nails in Richmond's coffin in the seventh and eighth innings.  A pair of walks and doubles added up to two more runs for the Rock Cats in the seventh, as Solarte cracked a two-run double off the left-center field wall off of left-hander Alex Hinshaw.  Right-hander Mitch Lively returned the mound for the first time since August 22nd in the eighth, and allowed the final run of the evening for New Britain.

Richmond provided a few highlights over the last couple innings, as Dominguez completed the scoring for the evening with a two-run single.  Skyler Stromsmoe also came on to pitch the top of the ninth inning and worked a perfect inning.

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