RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Johnny Monell went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle and Juan Perez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored as the Richmond Flying Squirrels (58-58) defeated the Harrisburg Senators (55-61), 7-2, in the opener of a three-game series at The Diamond Tuesday night.
Perez extended his hit streak to 12 games, which ties Gary Brown for the longest hit streak by a Richmond batter this season and is one game shy of matching Clay Timpner's franchise record.
Harrisburg struck first with a run in the opening frame. Brian Goodwin hit a ball to deep left field that glanced off the glove off Mark Minicozzi. As a result, Goodwin reached third base on the error and he scored an unearned run moments later on Sean Nicol's RBI single that gave the Senators a 1-0 edge.
Richmond grabbed the lead an inning later with two runs off Senators starter Chien-Ming Wang, who is on a Major League rehab assignment with Harrisburg, in the bottom of the second. Minicozzi drew a walk to start the inning and Perez reached on an error by Senators second baseman Jonny Tucker, which gave Richmond runners at second and third with no outs. Monell delivered an RBI single that plated Minicozzi and Luke Anders followed with an RBI groundout, which put the Squirrels in front 2-1.
The Flying Squirrels seized control of the contest an inning later by scoring three runs off Wang. Nick Liles singled to start the inning and he stole second base before Wang issued a walk to Ehire Adrianza. Following a groundout by Daniel Mayora that enabled Liles to take third and Adrianza to reach second, Minicozzi hit into a fielders' choice that erased Liles at the plate. Perez followed with an RBI single that scored Adrianza. Then, Monell ripped a two-run triple to deep center field, which gave Richmond a 5-1 lead.
Harrisburg got a run back against Squirrels starter Chris Heston in the top of the fifth. Tucker drew a leadoff walk and he advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Wang. Goodwin drove in Tucker with an RBI double that reduced Richmond's lead to 5-2.
But the Flying Squirrels answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Adrianza doubled to start the inning. Wang retired the next two batters before giving up an RBI triple to Perez. Monell followed with an RBI double that extended Richmond's lead to 7-2.
Heston (8-5) earned the win - his first since July 16 - after allowing five hits and two runs, one of which was earned, in six innings of work. Jake Dunning and Daryl Maday combined to toss three innings of scoreless relief. Wang (1-3) took the loss for Harrisburg. He surrendered seven hits and seven runs, six of which were earned, in four and 2/3 innings of work.
The Squirrels will seek their third straight win when the two teams square off in game two of the three-game series at The Diamond Wednesday night. Richmond will send LHP Mike Kickham (9-8, 2.76) to mound. Harrisburg is expected to counter with RHP Kevin Pucetas (7-4, 3.53). First pitch is slated for 7:05 PM.
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