Richmond, VA (WWBT)- Johnny Monell delivered two solo-home runs and a quartet of Richmond hurlers combined on a shutout as the Flying Squirrels (18-18) blanked the Bowie Baysox (15-20), 2-0, in front of 8,564 on Saturday night at The Diamond. The fourth shutout of the season for the Squirrels returns Richmond to the .500 mark for the first time since April 30th (12-12).
Pitching dominated the early portion of the ballgame, as Richmond lefty Mike Kickham and Bowie right-hander Zach Clark dueled through the first five innings. Kickham blanked the Baysox on four singles, never permitting a Bowie runner past second base while fanning three. Clark was even better, conceding his first hit of the night - a single from Chris Dominguez - in the fifth inning. Clark needed just 43 pitches through the fifth as the ballgame proceeded scoreless to the sixth inning.
Kickham posted another zero in the sixth, and Monell finally broke the scoreless stalemate in the bottom of the inning. Monell led off the frame and looped a solo-home run just over the left-field fence. Monell's second home run of the season put the Squirrels in front, 1-0.
Kickham (2-3) worked into the seventh inning for the first time on the year, and earned his second win over 6.1 innings. He handcuffed the Baysox on six hits, walked none and struck out four. It marked the first occasion on the year that Kickham didn't issue a walk.
Monell victimized Clark for the second time in the eighth inning. Monell, batting with one out in the inning, belted his second home run of the night off Clark to cap the scoring on the night, 2-0. Monell's second home run of the night was pulled to right field. It was the fourth time in Monell's career that he homered multiple times in the same game.
Clark (2-3) took a hard-luck loss for Bowie over eighth innings. He surrendered two earned runs on six hits, walked none and struck out one. The righty dropped to 1-2 on the season against Kickham and the Squirrels.
A trio of Squirrels relievers finished Richmond's fourth shutout of the season. Left-hander Tom Vessella worked a scoreless inning-and-a-third after replacing Kickham. Right-hander Austin Fleet came on to finish the eighth for Vessella. Right-hander Brett Bochy then earned his third save of the season, working the ninth.
The four-game series concludes with game four at 2:05 PM on Sunday afternoon at The Diamond. Richmond RHP Justin Fitzgerald (2-1, 2.70) will make the start against Bowie RHP Tim Bascom (2-1, 4.35).