Flying Squirrels Avoid Sweep as Senators Lose 6-2

Homers from Isaac Ballou and Wilmer Difo not enough

Video Highlights

The Harrisburg Senators couldn’t complete the series sweep against Richmond as the Flying Squirrels won 6-2 in front of 3,024 fans at FNB Field. Isaac Ballou and Wilmer Difo both struck solo home runs for the Senators in the defeat.

Richmond broke the scoreless tie in the fourth with three runs off Harrisburg starter Mark Blackmar. The Flying Squirrels singled, drew a walk, tripled, and doubled to lead off the frame and plate three. Blackmar (1-1) worked five innings allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out six.

“He was up,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “Early on he got away with it more. It caught up with him in that inning where they hit the ball pretty hard.”

Harrisburg (55-45) struggled to get anything going off Richmond starter Andrew Suarez as the southpaw worked through the lineup the first time without allowing a base hit. Ballou and Difo would hit their fourth and fifth home runs of the season, respectively, but Richmond responded both times with a run in the next half-inning to keep the margin at three.

Rafael Bautista continued his climb up the Eastern League hit leaders with three more base hits on Sunday (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

Rafael Bautista continued his climb up the Eastern League hit leaders with three more base hits on Sunday (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

Derek Self and Nick Lee each allowed a run in relief, while Ryan Brinley worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning. His skipper noticed, “I thought Brinley threw the ball well.”

The Senators scratched out only seven hits on the afternoon including three infield singles from Rafael Bautista.

“Offensively, we couldn’t pick it up,” LeCroy said. “We got close but we just couldn’t get that big hit.”

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Class AA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, come to town on Monday to begin a three-game series against the Senators. Harrisburg’s Michael Brady will be opposed by New Hampshire’s Conner Greene for the 7:00 p.m. start. Angie Keilhauer, former contestant on NBC’s The Voice, will be performing pre-game at FNB Field. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 6:45 p.m.

The Matt LeCroy Show: July 24 vs. Richmond

Senators manager Matt LeCroy and broadcaster Terry Byrom discuss the latest start by Tyler Mapes, more good defense and more in this edition of the Matt LeCroy Show.

Game 100 vs. Richmond: Lineups and Notes

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Game Notes

  • Pitching Matchup: Richmond: LHP Andrew Suarez (3-8, 5.14) vs. Harrisburg: RHP Mark Blackmar (1-0, 2.57)
  • Mark Blackmar looks to build off his impressive Senators’ debut in which he tossed seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits in a win over Erie. He has now gone seven innings in each of his three outings in the Nationals organization since being signed on July 5.
  • Andrew Suarez, the Giants’ second round pick last year, has gotten progressively better in his time with Richmond. The left-hander has gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts, including a 10-strikeout performance in his last time out against Akron.
  • The Senators kept sole possession of first place in the Eastern League Western Division with a 6-3 victory over the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The win secured a fifth consecutive series victory.
  • Drew Ward hit his second home run with the Senators and first at FNB Field last night.
  • The Senators have won 24 of their last 34 at FNB Field.
  • Harrisburg is 13-5 since being swept in a four-game series at Reading.

Follow Along

Tomorrow

  • Monday, July 25 vs. New Hampshire, 7:00 p.m.
    • Probable Pitching Matchup – New Hampshire: RHP Conner Greene (2-2, 5.06) vs. Harrisburg: RHP Michael Brady (2-4, 4.14)

Ward and Kieboom Homers Ground Flying Squirrels

Tyler Mapes becomes second pitcher in Eastern League with 10 wins

Video Highlights

Home runs from Drew Ward and Spencer Kieboom made the difference as the Harrisburg Senators doubled up the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 6-3, in front of 6,483 fans at FNB Field. Tyler Mapes became the first Senators’ pitcher since Nate Karns in 2013 to reach double-digit wins with his 10th of the season.

“Guys are starting to understand how to play right,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “If you’re selfish and play to get hits and numbers, then it ain’t fun. But when you play right, even if you don’t win, it can be so much fun. I think that’s what they’re starting to learn.”

“No matter what level you go, if you know how to play it’s fun. It makes it easier and you’re more competitive. You better your chances of playing at a higher level and here you’re close. If you know how to play and I can call the manager or front office and say ‘this guy knows how to play’ then your numbers don’t necessarily have to be great.”

“I see a lot of different things that we’re starting to do better. If our pitcher has a long inning, we go up there and work some at-bats. They’re starting to understand that dynamic. It makes it more fun. No matter where you’re at, college or pro ball, if you don’t treat it that way baseball would be boring.”

Harrisburg (55-44) raced out to an early lead in the first inning off Richmond starter Tyler Beede. Isaac Ballou delivered the bases loaded, two-out single that drove in the first two Senators’ runs. Kieboom followed with a double that scored Pleffner, but Ballou was cut down at the plate trying to score an additional run.

Senators’ starting pitcher Mapes cruised though the first three innings until a balk seemed to throw the right-hander off kilter. The Flying Squirrels nibbled away at the lead scoring two in the four and one in the fifth to tie the game up at three. Mapes (10-6) scattered five hits and four walks while striking out two in six innings of work.

Spencer Kieboom went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored in the Senators' victory on Saturday night. (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

Spencer Kieboom went 2-for-4 with a double, home run, two RBI, and a run scored in the Senators’ victory on Saturday night. (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

But Harrisburg responded in an unlikely way, with a pair of home runs. The Senators had come into the game dead last in the Eastern League with 46 home runs, but Ward’s two-run round-tripper in the fifth inning and Kieboom’s solo shot in the sixth were the consequential blows in the victory.

“Ward got the big one,” LeCroy said. “That was huge and then Kieboom added some insurance.”

Reliever Justin DeFratus tossed two innings of scoreless relief in his first appearance with Harrisburg and Andrew Robinson locked down the ninth for his third save.

Sunday afternoon is the last chance to catch the Flying Squirrels as the teams conclude their series at 1:30 p.m. in Richmond’s only visit to FNB Field in 2016. Newcomer Mark Blackmar takes the mound for the Senators looking for the series sweep against Andrew Suarez. Harrisburg will celebrate Christmas in July as the first 1,000 fans receive this year’s Mayfly Globe, featuring former Senator Anthony Rendon. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 1:15 p.m.

On Deck: INF Neftali Soto

Senators all-star infielder Neftali Soto talks about his individual and his team’s success.

The Matt LeCroy Show: July 23 vs. Richmond

Senators manager Matt LeCroy and broadcaster Terry Byrom discuss more heroics from Shawn Pleffner, an improving Robert Benincasa and John Simms plus more in today’s edition of The Matt LeCroy Show.

Game 99 vs. Richmond: Lineups and Notes

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Game Notes

  • Pitching Matchup: Richmond: RHP Tyler Beede (5-5, 3.00) vs. Harrisburg: RHP Tyler Mapes (9-6, 3.24)
  • Tyler Mapes continued his magical 2016 season with his third nine-inning complete game last time out against Erie. Mapes allowed just one run on four hits while throwing 113 pitches in Harrisburg’s 5-1 win over the SeaWolves. He has yet to face the Flying Squirrels this season.
  • Tyler Beede, who was on the Eastern League Western Division All-Star team with Mapes, enters tonight fourth in the league with a 3.00 ERA in 96 innings this season. However, Beede was roughed up his last time out, allowing a season-high six runs on 12 hits in five innings to Bowie. He threw five shutout innings in his only start against the Senators this season.
  • The Senators moved into sole possession of first place in the Eastern League Western Division with a 2-1 win over the Richmond Flying Squirrels, coupled with an Akron loss to Altoona. Again it was Shawn Pleffner who came up with the big hit, a go-ahead pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
  • For a second consecutive outing, Robert Benincasa earned the save for the Senators. He has not allowed a run in five straight appearances (7.1 innings).

    Benincasa Robert_07132014 - 3090 (Will Bentzel)

    Robert Benincasa worked around a pair of base runners in the ninth inning to save the Senators’ seventh in win in eight games. (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

  • Also riding a substantial scoreless innings streak is John Simms, who pitched two perfect innings Friday and has not allowed a run in his last 10 innings. He has also earned the win in his last three appearances.
  • The Senators have won 22 of their last 32 at FNB Field.

Follow Along

Tomorrow

  • Sunday, July 24 vs. Richmond, 1:30 p.m.
    • Probable Pitching Matchup – Richmond: LHP Andrew Suarez (3-8, 5.14) vs. Harrisburg: RHP Mark Blackmar (1-0, 2.57)

Pleffner in a Pinch Tops the Flying Squirrels Redux

John Simms and Robert Benincasa craft four scoreless innings of relief

Video Highlights

For the second night in a row, Shawn Pleffner delivered the go-ahead RBI pinch-hitting as the Harrisburg Senators topped the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 2-1, in front of 5,094 fans at FNB Field. The Senators managed only four hits in the victory which elevated them to a 54-44 record atop the Western Division standings.

The two teams traded paint in the second inning as both Richmond and Harrisburg pushed a run across in the frame. The Senators got on the board after Neftali Soto doubled, advanced to third on a fly ball from Drew Ward, and scored on a sac fly off the bat of Isaac Ballou.

The game remained knotted at 1-1 until Pleffner was called on to bat in the pitcher’s spot in the seventh inning. Pleffner’s single drove in the go ahead run as Ballou slid around the tag at home.

Boone Whiting was activated off the disabled list to make the start for Harrisburg throwing five solid innings. Whiting scattered four hits and walked three while striking out a batter, but failed to factor in the decision. “He was up, you can tell he was a little bit off. He lived on the edge, but they kept swinging at it and popping it up,” manager Matt LeCroy said.

Robert Benincasa picked up his second save of the season as the right-hander returns from Tommy John surgery (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

Robert Benincasa picked up his second save of the season as the right-hander returns from Tommy John surgery (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

John Simms (7-4) tossed two perfect innings with three strikeouts to earn the victory.”I think he’s figured out his tempo. He’s picked his tempo up and that has made him better,” LeCroy said. “It has made him a little more of an uncomfortable at-bat.”

Robert Benincasa worked a scoreless eighth and ninth inning to pocket his second save of the season as the right-hander stranded the tying run at third base to end the game.

Harrisburg and Richmond continue their four-game set on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. as the Senators send Tyler Mapes to the hill looking for his 10th win of the season. It’s Star Wars Night at the ballpark and the team will wear special themed Wookie jerseys that will auctioned off after the game benefiting the Special Olympics Area M. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 5:45 p.m.

The Matt LeCroy Show: July 22 vs. Richmond

Senators manager Matt LeCroy and broadcaster Terry Byrom discuss Phillips Valdez’s impressive outing, Shawn Pleffner’s surge and more in today’s edition of The Matt LeCroy Show.

On Deck: 3B Drew Ward

Senators third baseman Drew Ward talks about adjusting to pitching at Double-A, improving at third base and more in this edition of On Deck.

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