Ward and Kieboom Homers Ground Flying Squirrels
Tyler Mapes becomes second pitcher in Eastern League with 10 wins
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.
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.