TRENTON, NJ - The Richmond Flying Squirrels (4-4) rallied out of a substantial hole for the second straight day, only to fall in 11 innings, 6-5, to the Trenton Thunder (4-3) on Thursday night at ARM & HAMMER PARK.
The game-winning rally was created by Slade Heathcott, who tripled with one out in the 11th inning off of Richmond right-hander Fabio Castillo. After a lengthy battle, Ramon Flores lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, bringing in Heathcott with the winning run. Castillo (0-1) took the loss in relief for Richmond.
The Thunder used an inning-opening infield-single to jump out to an early lead against Richmond right-hander Taylor Rogers in the first inning. Slade Heathcott reached on that single and advanced to second base on a single from Ramon Flores. Back-to-back groundouts then brought in Heathcott for a 1-0 lead.
Trenton added a pair of runs against Rogers in the second inning. Rogers opened the door with a one-out walk to Jose Pirela. Neil Medchill put runners at second and third with a double. Walter Ibarra brought in Pirela with a groundout and Heathcott made it 3-0 Thunder with an RBI double.
Thunder righty Zach Nuding held off the Squirrels through three innings, and fanned the first two hitters of the fourth. He looked like he would cruise into the fifth inning, but Andrew Susac cracked a solo-home run to left field with two outs to put the Squirrels on the board, trailing 3-1. It was the first Double-A home run for Susac.
Rogers settled in nicely and kept the Thunder at bay in the third and fourth innings. However, on a limited pitch count, he retired after four innings to an eventual no-decision. He allowed three earned runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out two.
Susac's home run was the only blemish for Zach Nuding, as he ultimately worked six innings. He allowed just the lone run on six hits, walked two and struck out seven as he won for the first time on the year. Richmond's late uprising cost him his first win of the season.
Richnmond was quiet in the seventh inning, but pulled back into the ballgame with three runs off of reliever Branden Pinder in the eighth. Mark Minicozzi delivered a one-out double to right field and was plated by Ricky Oropesa, who singled into left-center field. Susac followed and delivered his second home run of the night. The two-run shot was sent to right field, where the wind helped carry it over the wall. It marked the first multi-homer game in Susac's career and pulled Richmond within a run, 5-4.
Pinder returned for the ninth inning, and the Squirrels pulled even with a single run. Ehire Adrianza led off with a fortuitous single blooped over the mound. A groundout moved Adrianza to second base and Adam Duvall knotted the ballgame, 5-5, with a single to center field.
Shaeffer Hall (1-0) earned the win for the Thunder, working two scoreless innings of relief. The Squirrels dropped their third consecutive game, after they had reeled off four straight victories.
Game two of the four-game series is scheduled for 7:05 PM at ARM & HAMMER PARK on Friday night. The Squirrels will send RHP Justin Fitzgerald (0-0, 2.70) against Trenton LHP Francisco Rondon (1-0, 5.40). Pregame coverage begins on SportsRadio 910 and SportsRadio910.com at 6:35 p.m.