RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Former Richmond star Thomas Neal went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs and Paolo Espino allowed just one run in eight innings pitched to lead the Akron Aeros (60-40) to a 10-1 victory over the Richmond Flying Squirrels (51-50) in the third game of a four-game series at The Diamond Saturday night.
Richmond shortstop Ehire Adrianza went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and a run scored. Richmond center fielder Gary Brown went 0-for-4 and his streak of reaching base safely in 36 consecutive games, the third longest on-base streak in the Eastern League this season, came to an end.
The Aeros seized the early lead by scoring three runs in the opening frame. Matt Lawson hit a one-out single and Neal followed with a single. Squirrels starter Daryl Maday was able to get Nick Weglarz to hit into a fielder's choice that erased Lawson at third base. Then, Juan Diaz smacked a three-run home run - his tenth of the season and second in as many nights - that cleared the right field wall and put Akron in front 3-0.
Akron added to its lead with a pair of runs in the second. Jordan Henry and Roberto Perez hit consecutive singles to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt from Davis Stoneburner put runners at second and third with one out, Tyler Holt reached on a fielding error by Squirrels first baseman Luke Anders, which enabled both Henry and Perez to score and extend Akron's lead to 5-0.
The Aeros tacked on three more runs in the top of the fourth. With one out in the inning, Maday struck out Stoneburner on wild pitch, which allowed Stoneburner to reach first base. Following a walk to Holt, Maday retired Lawson on a groundout to first base for the second out in the inning. But Neal belted a three-run home run over the left field fence, which made it an 8-0 ballgame. It was Neal's eighth home run of the season.
An eight-run lead was plenty of cushion for Espino, who scattered nine hits over eight innings pitched, but allowed only one earned run. Trailing 10-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Richmond got a one-out triple from Adrianza. Daniel Mayora followed with an infield single that scored Adrianza from third and enabled the Flying Squirrels to avoid a shutout.
Espino (5-2) earned the win for Akron and Maday (3-6) took the loss for Richmond after allowing seven hits and eight runs, six of which were earned, in four innings pitched.
The Squirrels will look to bounce back with a win in the series finale with the Aeros Sunday night at The Diamond. First pitch is slated for 5:05 PM. Richmond will send LHP Mike Kickham (8-7, 2.71) to the mound. Akron is expected to counter with LHP T. J. House (6-2, 3.95).