Richmond, VA (WWBT)- The Erie SeaWolves claimed a three-game series with the Richmond Flying Squirrels with a 5-1 victory on Sunday at The Diamond. The loss drops the Squirrels back to five games under .500.
Gary Brown got the Squirrels out to the quickest start possible against left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz. Brown worked ahead in the count to 3-1 and then cracked a De La Cruz fastball over the left-field wall for a 1-0 lead. The solo-shot was the second home run of the season for Brown, and also his second in his last four games. Brown hadn't homered in the first 53 games of the season.
Richmond right-hander Justin Fitzgerald handcuffed the SeaWolves through the first four innings, but they were able to break through to tie the game in the fifth. Fitzgerald started his own trouble with an inning-opening walk to Wade Gaynor. Tony Plagman bunted Gaynor to second and he advanced to third on a Fitzgerald wild-pitch. Brandon Douglas then lifted a sacrifice-fly to center field to square the ballgame, 1-1.
Things unraveled for Fitzgerald and the Squirrels in the seventh inning. Fitzgerald got the first out, but Rawley Bishop punched double up the right-field line to get the SeaWolves started. Wade Gaynor followed and popped a ball up into short left-center field. Shortstop Ehire Adrianza and left fielder Juan Ciriaco didn't communicate and the ball fell, putting runners at second and third base with one out. The Squirrels elected to intentionally walk Plagman to load the bases. Douglas then gave the SeaWolves a lead they would never relinquish with an infield-single. The bases remained loaded when Corey Jones looped a soft-single into left field, putting Erie in front 3-1 and chasing Fitzgerald. Right-hander Austin Fleet entered and two more runs scored courtesy of a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice-fly.
Fitzgerald (3-4) was charged with all five runs Erie scored, and was doomed to the loss over 6.1 innings. He surrendered seven hits, walked two and struck out three. De La Cruz (3-5) was never tested again after the first inning, and strolled through seven innings. He earned his third win, conceding just a lone run on four hits. He walked two and struck out five.
Right-hander Michael Morrison retired all six batters that he faced over the final two innings to nail down the victory. De La Cruz and Morrison combined to retire the final 10 Richmond hitters in order.
The Squirrels will depart on Sunday night for Manchester, NH. The team will enjoy an off-day on Monday before opening a three-game series with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto Blue Jays) on Tuesday night at 7:05 PM.