RICHMOND, VA - Tommy Joseph racked up three hits and an RBI in his first game against his former team as the Reading Phillies (58-51) defeated the Richmond Flying Squirrels (55-56), 7-4, in the second game of a three-game series at The Diamond Wednesday night. The loss dropped Richmond to below the .500 mark for the first time since July 13th.
Reading drew first blood with a run in the top of the second. Tug Hulett drew a leadoff walk from Richmond starter Chris Heston. Joseph followed with a single before Heston struck out Brandon Tripp. Then, Castro ripped an RBI double that plated Hulett and gave Reading a 1-0 edge.
Richmond immediately answered with a run in the bottom of the frame. Juan Perez smacked a one-out solo home run over the left field wall to even the score at 1-1. It was Perez' tenth home run of the season, which ties him with Ryan Cavan for the team lead.
Two innings later, Reading grabbed the lead. Hulett drew a leadoff walk and he advanced to second base when Heston delivered a wild pitch. Joseph drove in Hulett with an RBI single to left-center field, which put Reading in front 2-1.
Reading added a run in the top of the fifth. Cody Asche hit a one-out double off Richmond reliever Austin Fleet and he scored two batters later when Hulett delivered an RBI single.
Then, the R-Phils struck for two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings. Tripp doubled to start the top of the sixth and Castro followed with a single to left field, which resulted in a throwing error by Richmond's Mark Minicozzi. With runners at second and third, Troy Hanzawa hit a ground ball toward left-center field that resulted in a fielding error by Ehire Adrianza, which enabled Tripp to score from third. Following a pitching change and a sacrifice bunt from Reading starter Austin Hyatt, Miguel Abreu hit an RBI groundout off Edwin Quirarte to extend Reading's lead to 5-1.
In the top of the seventh, Reading tacked on two additional runs when Quirarte gave up a two-run single to Castro with two outs in the frame. The Flying Squirrels answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Minicozzi hit an RBI double that plated Daniel Mayora, who had singled to start the frame. Later in the inning, Cavan drove in Minicozzi with an RBI single, which ended Hyatt's night on the mound. Reliever Jordan Whatcott gave up a single to Luke Anders before pinch hitter Johnny Monell singled up the middle to drive in Cavan and make it a 7-4 ballgame.
But Reading's bullpen kept the Squirrels' bats at bay for the remainder of the ballgame as Whatcott, Tim Kennelly and Justin Friend combined to toss two and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to seal the victory.
Hyatt (6-3) earned the win for Reading and Friend picked up his 15th save of the season. Heston (7-5) was charged with the loss after yielding four hits and two earned runs in three and 2/3 innings of work.
The Squirrels will look to end their three-game losing streak when the two teams meet in the finale of the three-game series Thursday night at The Diamond. First pitch is slated for 7:05 PM. Richmond is expected to send LHP Mike Kickham (8-8, 2.96) to the mound. Reading is expected to counter with RHP Trevor May (8-8, 5.15).