Senators offense continues rolling in 5-2 win over Richmond

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The Harrisburg Senators rapped out a dozen hits, including two home runs, on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Richmond Flying Squirrels on Friday night at FNB Field. The output was nothing new for the Harrisburg bats as the offense has heated up as the weather has turned warmer.

In May, the Senators’ offense has been clicking on all cylinders as individually and collectively the team has improved at the plate. Powered by their 53 doubles and 23 home runs in the month, the Senators have the highest OPS (.780) of the 12 Eastern League teams after having one of the worst (.683) in April.

“I think with two strikes we’re having better at-bats and with guys on base they’re having a better plan,” manager Matt LeCroy said.

The entire lineup has been productive lately, not just one or two guys carrying the load. Friday night against the Flying Squirrels was a prime example where five different batters had two hits apiece and every starting position player had a hit except for leadoff batter Alec Keller.

For the month the Senators are hitting .275 as a team and have six players above .300: Ozzie Abreu (.304), Zach Collier (.333), Yadiel Hernandez (.319), Jose Marmolejos (.420), Stephen Perez (.308), and Drew Ward (.320). Just missing out on that mark by three points is Neftali Soto who has slugged six home runs in May, including the go ahead blast on Friday night.

“(Hitting coach Brian) Rupp is one of the hardest working coaches I have ever had,” LeCroy said. “These guys are buying into what he’s doing and they are going up there executing.”

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Phillips Valdez made his first appearance since being activated off the disabled list and threw a scoreless inning where he needed only eight pitches to retire the side. “I’m really happy for Valdez,” LeCroy said. ”He came in and had a clean inning.”

“He’s looked really good in his bullpens. (Pitching coach) Chris (Michalak) did a good job getting him sinking the baseball again. That’s what we need. If he’s on and good, he can give you two plus innings in that role as the bridge. Having a guy like that would be big.”

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For the first time since April 20, 2015, Marmolejos started in left field for Harrisburg. His skipper sees this as an opportunity for the 24-year-old to expand his repertoire. “It’s going to give him more options,” LeCroy said. “(Roving minor league outfield coordinator Gary) Thurman is here to help him get his feet under him.” Alec Keller also did a fantastic job from center field monitoring Marmolejos’ positioning and helping the first baseman feel comfortable in the outfield.

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Nice weather, fireworks, and monkeys riding dogs herding sheep is apparently a pretty good formula for getting fans to come to the ballpark. The Senators drew 6,573 fans for Friday’s game making it the largest home crowd of the season at FNB Field so far in 2017.

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Ryan Brinley worked a scoreless eighth inning to earn the win, his third of the season, while Wander Suero notched his 8th save to pull himself within two of the league lead……Mario Lisson evened the score at two with a home run, his third of the season, in the bottom of the fifth…the Senators had two runners thrown out at home.

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