Squirrels start strong, finish poorly in 12-6 loss

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Richmond, VA – Trenton designated hitter Mark Payton slugged a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning to lead the Thunder over the Squirrels,12-6 on Monday night at The Diamond. The Thunder attack spoiled the Double-A debut for Richmond starter Cory Taylor. Taylor lasted five innings in the contest and received a no-decision in the outing. Richmond’s Hunter Cole smashed a three-run homer in the first, but the Squirrels could not hold onto the lead. Trenton put the game out of reach with five runs in the ninth inning off Squirrels outfielder Tyler Horan (1st career appearance as a pitcher). Richmond continues a seven-day homestand on Tuesday, August 9th against Trenton. Tuesday is the Squirrels annual Tribute to the Peanut as well as Buds and Burgers specials.

The Squirrels wasted no time at all getting to Trenton right-hander Ronald Herrera. After Richmond righty Cory Taylor retired the side in order on eight pitches in the first, Ryder Jones and Hunter Cole provided an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the inning. Steven Duggar opened the inning on an error, smashing a hard grounder off the body of the third baseman Dante Bichette Jr. C.J. Hinojosa then lined a single, advancing Duggar to third base. Ryder Jones brought in the first run with a fielder’s choice and Cole crushed a two-run homer over the left field wall for the 3-0 edge. It was the 12th home run of the season for Cole and his second in the past four games.

Taylor held the lead in the second inning but could not do so in the third. Bichette Jr. started off the third with an error and took third on a base hit. Dustin Fowler then put Trenton on the board with a base hit and three batters later, first baseman Mike Ford tied the game with a two-run single. Taylor was forced to throw 40 pitches in the inning, allowing three unearned runs.

Trenton continued to apply pressure on Taylor in the fourth and took the lead, 4-3 with a sacrifice fly. Dante Bichette Jr. and Francisco Diaz both singled with one out, setting up Michael O’Neill for the go-ahead run. Taylor finished the inning without further damage, allowing the Squirrels to tie the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the fourth. Brandon Bednar cranked a double to left and both Carlos Moncrief and Steve Lerud walked to load the bases. Darren Ford then knotted the game with a single into right field.

Taylor returned for the fifth and wiggled out of trouble in his final frame. Trenton placed a pair of runners on base with one out, leading to an intentional walk in hopes of inducing a double play. Taylor got the ground ball he needed, picking up a 6-4-3 twin killing to keep the game tied through five. Overall, Taylor allowed four runs (one earned) over five innings of work. Taylor tossed 93 pitches and struck out two in the no-decision.

Richmond sent Trenton’s Herrera from the game with a double off the bat of Carlos Moncrief in the sixth. Moncrief suffered an injury after rounding first base and hopped into second base for the double. He was replaced by pinch runner Tyler Horan and Herrera was removed for reliever Diego Moreno. Moreno recorded a ground out and a strikeout to end the threat in the sixth.

Jose Casilla relieved Taylor with a scoreless sixth but struggled in the seventh. Abiatal Avelino singled to begin the seventh and Casilla walked Mike Ford with one out. Mark Peyton then cut through the gridlock by drilling a three-run homer over the right field wall for a 7-4 lead.

The Squirrels countered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, pulling to within a run, 7-6. Tyler Horan tripled to begin the rally, and Steve Lerud worked a walk. Darren Ford then delivered his second RBI single of the game, plating Horan. Reliever Travis Hissong then struck out the next two batters and was relieved by closer Tyler Jones. Jones induced a ground ball that resulted in an error, scoring the Squirrels final run.

Due to a few extra inning games as well as a doubleheader on Saturday, the Squirrels ran out of available pitchers in the ninth inning. Outfielder Tyler Horan was summoned to get the final three outs, and Trenton attacked for five runs, highlighted by a two-run homer from Mike Ford. The five-run ninth put the game out of reach, 12-6.

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