RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Mike Kickham turned in a dominant performance by tossing 8.1 scoreless innings and Daniel Mayora hit his fourth home run of the season as the Richmond Flying Squirrels shut out the Reading Phillies, 2-0, in the finale of a three-game series at The Diamond Thursday night. The victory was Richmond's Eastern League-leading 12th shutout win of the season and it enabled the Flying Squirrels to avoid a series sweep.
Kickham established new career-highs in strikeouts (12) and innings pitched (8.1) in the ballgame.
The game quickly developed into a pitchers' duel as both Kickham and Reading starter Trevor May were sharp from the get-go. May retired the first four batters he faced and did not allow a hit through the first two frames. After giving up a leadoff single to Miguel Abreu in the top of the first, Kickham retired the next 11 batters he faced.
Reading mounted the first scoring threat of the contest in the top of the fourth. After Kickham struck out Cody Asche and Darin Ruf to start the inning, former Squirrel Tommy Joseph ripped a double to right field. Leandro Castro followed with a sharp single that grazed third baseman Daniel Mayora's glove and rolled into left field. But Mayora threw a strike to Ryan Cavan, who tagged out Castro as he tried to stretch the single into a double, which ended the inning.
The Flying Squirrels also squandered a chance to break the scoreless tie. In the bottom of the sixth, Kickham drew a one-out walk and he advanced to third when Gary Brown laced a double down the left-field line. Then, Nick Liles lined out to second baseman Troy Hanzawa, who threw out at Kickham leaning off the third base bag for an inning-ending double play.
Richmond finally broke the stalemate with two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Daniel Mayora belted a solo home run that landed well beyond the left field wall to start the inning. Mark Minicozzi followed with a double down the right field line and he advanced to third base on a single from Juan Perez. After May struck out Johnny Monell, Ehire Adrianza reached on a fielder's choice that erased Perez at second base and enabled Minicozzi to score from third, which extended Richmond's lead to 2-0.
Kickham (9-8) worked a scoreless eighth inning and retired the first batter he faced in the top of the ninth before exiting the ballgame. Flying Squirrels closer Brett Bochy came in and got the final two outs to seal Richmond's victory. May (8-9) took the loss after allowing five hits and two earned runs in seven innings of work. Bochy picked up his 14th save of the season.
The Squirrels will seek their second straight win when they take on the Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals) in the opener of a brief three-game road trip Friday night at Metro Bank Park. First pitch is slated for 7:00 PM. Richmond is expected to send RHP Justin Fitzgerald (7-7, 3.74) to the mound. Harrisburg is expected to counter with RHP Trevor Holder (2-2, 5.66).