The Richmond Flying Squirrels (1-0) rebounded after blowing a ninth-inning lead to finish off the Akron RubberDucks (0-1), 3-2, in 11 innings on Wednesday night at Canal Park. The Squirrels grab a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series, playing extra-innings in the postseason for the second time in franchise history (WDCS Game 2 – 2011).
Left-hander Elvis Araujo started his own trouble as the Squirrels scored the winning run in the top of the 11th inning. Araujo (0-1) walked Mario Lisson on four pitches. An out later, Angel Villalona crunched an RBI double through the alley in left-center field. Lisson scampered all the way around for a 3-2 lead. Araujo endured the defeat for the RubberDucks.
The Squirrels grabbed the first lead in the ballgame in the third inning with a pair of runs off of right-hander Duke von Schamman. Newcomer Daniel Carbonell triggered the inning with a one-out triple yanked into the left-field corner. Kelby Tomlinson bunted into the second out of the inning, but Blake Miller followed and blasted a two-run home run to straightaway center field. Miller's first home run at the Double-A level gave the Squirrels a 2-0 lead.
The RubberDucks finally broke through against lefty Adalberto Mejia in the fourth inning. Erik Gonzalez opened the inning with Akron's first hit of the night – a single to left field. Mejia struck out the next two hitters, but Alex Lavisky crunched an RBI double through the right-center field alley. Gonzalez raced around to cut the Richmond lead to a lone run, 2-1.
Von Schamman righted himself following Miller's home run. He worked a sturdy seven innings, allowing just the two runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out seven. He did not factor in the decision.
Mejia had just the one hiccup, working into the seventh inning. He limited the RubberDucks to a lone run on just two hits. He walked two, struck out seven and did not register a decision.
Richmond could not close out the ballgame in the ninth inning, as lefty Steven Okert committed the sin of walking the lead-off man, Bryan LaHair. Both were then lifted, as LaHair was removed in favor of pinch-runner, Ronny Rodriguez. Okert gave way to righty Cody Hall. Hall promptly conceded back-to-back singles to Alex Lavisky and Joey Wendle. Wendle's single to left field plated Rodriguez to tie the game, 2-2. The RubberDucks then had the winning run at second base with nobody out. Hall recovered to strike out Bryson Myles and ground Jordan Smith into a double-play that forced extra-innings.
Right-hander Jose Casilla (1-0) slammed the door on the RubberDucks. He worked both the 10th and 11th innings to earn the win. After the Squirrels claimed the lead, he calmly set down the side in order to finish the ballgame.
Game two of the Western Division Championship Series is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Canal Park on Thursday night. Richmond LHP Jack Snograss (11-6, 3.56) will make the start against Akron RHP Will Roberts (12-12, 4.08). Roberts is a Richmond native who played his high school baseball at Maggie Walker and continued his career at UVA.