Pleffner in a Pinch Tops the Flying Squirrels 4-2

Phillips Valdez earned the win with his longest outing of the season

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Pinch-hitter Shawn Pleffner delivered the go-ahead RBI to back a steady start by Phillips Valdez as the Harrisburg Senators bested the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 4-2, in front of 5,989 fans at FNB Field. The victory was the Senators’ sixth in seven games against the Flying Squirrels this season.

Richmond plated a run off Harrisburg starter Phillips Valdez in the first inning, but the right-hander avoided a big inning by rolling a double play ball.

“Definitely getting out of that inning giving up only one was huge for him,” pitching coach Chris Michalak said. “It also gave us an opportunity between innings to remind him what we worked on in his bullpen session.”

The Senators (53-44) evened the score an inning later as Spencer Kieboom hustled all the way home from second base on Rafael Bautista’s infield single.

Shawn Pleffner doubled home the go-ahead run and scored an insurance tally in the Senators' victory (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

Shawn Pleffner doubled home the go-ahead run and scored an insurance tally in the Senators’ victory (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

Richmond re-took the lead, but the Senators answered back as Stephen Perez clubbed his third home run of the season, a solo shot, in the bottom of the fourth. Both teams posted zeroes until Pleffner delivered a double into the gap that scored Kieboom from first base to give the Senators a 3-2 advantage in the bottom of the seventh. Pleffner scored when the next batter, Bautista, singled and got caught in a rundown between first and second.

Valdez (3-2) tossed his longest outing of the season, seven innings, in earning the win for Harrisburg. The lithe Dominican allowed two runs on eight hits while striking out four. The start was also Valdez’ first outing this season where he didn’t allow a walk. Wander Suero worked a scoreless eighth inning for Harrisburg and Andrew Robinson closed the game out for his second save of the season.

“He is on his way to repeating what he did in his bullpen. It was a little inconsistent at first,” Michalak said. “The more we emphasized it between innings, the more he worked on it, and the more natural it became. It’s still a work in progress but he’s definitely going in the right direction. He’s starting to feel comfortable with it and doing the things that are going to allow him to succeed and do what he did tonight.”

Bautista led the Senators’ 10-hit effort with three singles, while Perez contributed two base knocks to the cause.

Harrisburg sends Boone Whiting to the mound against Sam Coonrod for Richmond as the two teams continue their four-game series on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. During the game you can win a flatscreen TV and after the game stick around for fireworks. 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.

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