RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Bob McDonnell started Wednesday's game with a high first pitch, that was just slightly outside. By the time the game was over, the Squirrels were ahead in the polls, for the Western Division wild card.
McDonnell was at The Diamond to raise awareness for the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund. He's urging the Commonwealth's citizens to help others in the state as they continue to clean up from one of the most disastrous weather weeks in the state's history.
The Flying Squirrels held off the New Britain Rock Cats 8-4. The win allowed the Squirrels to surpass the Bowie Baysox for second place and wild-card position in the Western Division.
The Squirrels struck first in the ballgame, plating a run in the bottom of the first inning against New Britain left-hander Spencer Steedley. Culberson started the Squirrels with a one-out double into the right-field corner. Francisco Peguero followed and cracked a single back through the middle to bring in Culberson for a 1-0 lead.
New Britain used an inning-opening error on Culberson to even the ballgame in the top of the second inning. Right-hander Justin Schumer induced a groundball to start the inning from Chris Hermann, but Culberson threw wildly to first base. After a walk issued to Deibinson Romero, Mike Hollimon advanced Hermann to third with a fly out to right field. Danny Lehmann knotted the ballgame with another fly ball to right field.
Richmond again grabbed the lead in the bottom of the inning. The surge came with two outs, as Skyler Stromsmoe drew a walk from Steedley. Darren Ford singled behind him, and Culberson struck again, ripping a ground-rule double over the left-center field fence. The drive brought in Stromsmoe for a 2-1 advantage.
Chris Dominguez opened the bottom of the third with a double into the left-field corner. The Squirrels turned that into that their third run, as Wes Hodges flied out to move Dominguez to third base. He scored from there for a 3-1 advantage when Johnny Monell grounded out to the shortstop.
The evening was a battle for Schumer, and he retired for the evening after 3 1/3 innings. He didn't factor in the decision, allowing a lone run on two hits. He walked five and struck out none, tossing 75 pitches, only 34 of which were strikes.
Steedley (4-5) fended off further advances from the Flying Squirrels, calling it a night after five innings. He took the loss after surrendering three runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out three.
Right-hander Matt Schuld came on for the sixth inning, and the Squirrels greeted him rudely. Juan Perez started the inning with a single, and Sharlon Schoop followed with a single that put runners at the corners. A batter later, Ford drew a walk to load the bases. Culberson was at it again, following with his third hit of the night, a two-run single through the left-side of the infield. Culberson's eighth hit of the series stretched the Richmond lead to 5-1.
The Squirrels put away the ballgame with three runs against the New Britain bullpen in the seventh inning. Perez, Stromsmoe and Ford each drove in a run during the inning, which put the Squirrels in front, 8-1.
Right-hander Hector Correa followed Schumer into the ballgame and cleaned up the fourth inning. He was masterful throughout his relief appearance, earning the win over four innings. He did surrender a lone run in the eighth, his final on the hill. Left-hander Wilmin Rodriguez replaced Correa to finish the eighth. He proved ineffective in the ninth however, and the Rock Cats rallied for their final two runs to cap the scoring. Right-hander Heath Hembree came on to stem the tide, finishing his second win of the series.