Avisail Garcia hit a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Erie SeaWolves (48-60) to a 7-6 comeback win over the Richmond Flying Squirrels (55-54) in the finale of a four-game series Sunday afternoon at Jerry Uht Park. The loss caused Richmond to fall a game behind the Bowie Baysox in the Western division wild-card race and forced the Squirrels to settle for a series split.
Richmond seized the early lead with two runs in the opening frame. Ehire Adrianza hit a one-out single and he advanced to second base when Daniel Mayora reached on a hit by pitch. Two batters later, Mark Minicozzi delivered an RBI single that scored Adrianza. Juan Perez followed with an RBI single, which plated Mayora and extended Richmond's lead to 2-0.
The Flying Squirrels added three more runs in the top of the third. With two men on base and two outs, Perez socked a three-run home run that sailed over the left field wall and extended Richmond's lead to 5-0.
Erie struck back with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. After getting singles from Nick Castellanos and Garcia, Bryan Pounds smacked a three-run home run with one out in the inning, which reduced Richmond's lead to 5-3.
Richmond immediately answered when Mayora hit a solo home run that cleared the left field fence in the top of the fifth and extended the lead to 6-3. The SeaWolves threatened to score in the bottom of the inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Squirrels starter Chris Gloor exited the ballgame. Reliever Chris Wilson came on and struck out Pounds to end the threat and preserve Richmond's three-run advantage.
Erie reduced the deficit to two runs an inning later when Corey Jones smacked a leadoff home run, his third home run of the season and second of the series. The SeaWolves chipped away at the deficit in the bottom of the seventh. Wilson gave up singles to the first two Erie batters in the inning before retiring the next two hitters. Following a pitching change, Jones hit an RBI single that scored Castellanos and made it a 6-5 game.
Meanwhile, the Flying Squirrels offense was held in check by a trio of Erie relievers. After starter Jared Gayhart allowed six hits and six earned runs in five innings pitched, Kelvin De La Cruz, Robbie Weinhardt and Bruce Rondon combined to allow just two Richmond hits in four innings of scoreless relief.
The SeaWolves wrested the lead from Richmond in the bottom of the eighth. Richmond reliever Edwin Quirarte retired two of the first four batters in the inning, but allowed two base hits before being removed from the game. Tom Vessella issued a walk to Jordan Lennerton, which loaded the bases for Garcia. After working the count full, Garcia delivered a two-run single that put Erie ahead to stay 7-6. Rondon allowed one hit in the top of the ninth, but recovered and worked a scoreless inning to seal Erie's comeback win.
Weinhardt (1-2) earned the win after tossing two scoreless innings. Quirarte (3-1) was charged with his first loss of the season. Rondon earned his 11th save of the season.
The Squirrels will enjoy an off day on Monday before opening a three-game home stand against the Reading Phillies Tuesday night at The Diamond. First pitch is slated for 7:05 PM. Richmond will send RHP Craig Westcott (9-7, 3.63) to the mound. Reading has not yet named a starting pitcher.