Craig Westcott allowed four hits and two earned runs in seven innings pitched and Tommy Joseph went 3-for-3 with an RBI to lead the Richmond Flying Squirres to a 3-2 victory over the Akron Aeros in the second game of a four-game series at The Diamond Friday night.
Richmond center fielder Gary Brown went 1-for-5 with an RBI single to extend his consecutive on-base streak to 36 games, the third-longest on-base streak in the Eastern League this season.
The game had the feel of a pitchers' duel in the early innings as both Westcott and Aeros starter Giovanni Soto worked scoreless innings through the first two frames. Westcott held the Aeros scoreless in the third and Richmond broke the scoreless tie with a run in the bottom of the inning. Nick Liles drew a leadoff walk from Soto and Brown reached on an error, which gave Richmond runners at first and second. Following a sacrifice bunt from Ehire Adrianza, Soto plunked Daniel Mayora to load the bases. Then, Soto issued a walk to Joseph, which brought Liles in from third base and put Richmond in front 1-0.
Akron immediately answered with a run in the top of the fourth. With one out in the inning, Juan Diaz crushed a solo home run that sailed over the right field fence, which knotted the score at 1-1.
Richmond struck for two runs in the bottom of the fourth to reclaim the lead. Juan Perez hit an infield single to start the inning and Johnny Monell followed with an RBI double off the right field wall that enabled Perez to score from first. After Soto retired Juan Ciriaco on a pop-up, Liles grounded out to Diaz at shortstop, which allowed Monell to advance to third base. Brown drove in Monell with an RBI single, which extended Richmond's lead to 3-1.
The Aeros responded with a run in the top of the fifth. Westcott issued a leadoff walk to Roberto Perez and Davis Stoneburner followed with an infield single. Following a wild pitch, which advanced the runners, Tyler Holt bounced into a fielder's choice, which enabled Perez to score from third. Westcott recovered by inducing an inning-ending double play ball off the bat of Jordan Henry, which preserved Richmond's 3-2 advantage.
Westcott (9-6) and relievers Tom Vessella and Brett Bochy held Akron's offense in check for the remainder of the ballgame. After Westcott exited the game at the conclusion of the seventh inning, Vessella retired two of the three batters he faced in the eighth inning before giving way to Bochy. The Flying Squirrels' closer tossed an inning and a third of scoreless relief to earn his 11th save of the season. Soto (6-7) took the loss for Akron after allowing six hits and three runs, two of which were earned, in five innings pitched.
Friday's game also marked a homecoming for Akron second baseman Davis Stoneburner. Stoneburner is a Mills Godwin graduate who is now in the Indians' minor league system. He was 1-for-3 on the night at the plate with an infield single. Stoneburner is batting .194 on the season.
The Squirrels will aim for their second straight win when they take on the Aeros in game three of the four-game series Saturday night at The Diamond. First pitch is slated for 6:35 PM. Richmond will send RHP Daryl Maday (3-5, 3.07) to the mound. Akron is expected to counter with RHP Paolo Espino (4-2, 3.55).