Sports

Richmond beats Reading in series opener on walk off HR

RICHMOND, Va. - The Fightin Phils had a lot going for them in Friday night’s series opener in Richmond: seven strong innings from starter Cole Irvin in a bounceback performance, and a clutch home run from Cord Sandberg that broke a seventh inning tie. Leading 4-3 and within one strike of the win, Caleb Gindl later came up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and sealed the deal with a game-winning home run that lifted the Flying Squirrels to a 5-4 win.

Cole and fellow lefthanded starter Nate Reed matched each other for most of the night in a well-played ballgame despite the Fightin Phils early/late arrival Friday morning. A one out walk to Jiandido Tromp came right before Chace Numata smacked a double into the right field corner to put two runners in scoring position. Damek Tomscha continued his impressive roadtrip with an RBI groundout, and Reading had an early 1-0 lead.

They added two more in the fifth when Tomscha singled and Drew Stankiewicz drew a walk to open the inning. Irvin’s sacrifice bunt brought up the top of the lineup, where Sandberg and Angelo Mora took turns with run-scoring singles to make it 3-0.

In a preview of things to come, the Flying Squirrels didn’t get their first hit until Gindl singled with one out in the fifth. With two runners on, Dylan Davis uncorked a game-tying three-run homer to left, making it 3-3 for the next inning or so.

With Reed out for the seventh, Sandberg led off with a booming home run to straightaway center that broke the tie and put Reading back in front. In the eighth, Ryan Halstead got the last two outs for Richmond with Tromp at third base following a leadoff double and a groundout.

In the ninth, singles by pinch-hitter Zach Coppola and Sandberg set up runners at the corners and no outs for the Fightin Phils. This time, they couldn’t add any insurance off Sam Coonrod (4-11), who took care of the next three hitters to send it to the bottom of the ninth.

The turning point came with two outs when catcher Aramis Garcia battled back from a 1-2 count to draw a walk and bring up Gindl. On the very first pitch he saw, he elevated a deep drive to right for a game-winner and a 5-4 final leading into Saturday night’s doubleheader.

Game recap courtesy of the Reading Fightin Phils.


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