Western Division Playoffs Game 1: Flying Squirrels 6, Senators 0

The playoffs can make a team play differently. Some players tighten up with the spotlight on them and a chance for a championship in front of them. Some play looser and more relaxed as everything after the regular season is gravy in their eyes. And then some play exactly like they’ve played all season long…like the Harrisburg Senators did in Game 1 of the playoff series against the Richmond Flying Squirrels as they were shutout, 6-0, in front of 6,447 fans.

Expecting the Senators to change at this point in the season is as futile as waiting for a leopard to change its spots. I’ve watched them all season struggle to bunch hits together and worse fail to produce with runners in scoring position. So, it’s no real big surprise that it happened again on Friday night at The Diamond in Virginia’s capital city. But they won an Eastern League best 80 games, right? So I keep waiting for them to get the timely hit or move a runner to third base with less than two outs, but they rarely do.

Erik Arnesen was sharp as he struck out nine Richmond batters the first two times through the batting order. The only mistake that he made that he paid for was a solo shot off the bat of Chris Dominguez in the second inning to give the Flying Squirrels a 1-0 lead they would never relinquish. It was the third time through the order that hurt Arnesen and the Senators’ chances for taking a one game lead in this best-of-five series. Four consecutive two-out hits by the heart of Richmond’s order tacked on two additional runs in the sixth inning and made the deficit too large for the Senators to overcome. Jimmy Barthmaier, Oliver Perez, and Hassan Pena worked the last two innings in relief and allowed three more runs between them to account for the 6-0 final score.

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Manager Tony Beasley on…

…being the “home” team for the first two games in front of a partisan Richmond crowd

“It’s an impact. It’s a difference maker. The crowd’s not cheering for us, so you’re not at home. That’s obvious. So that’s going to play a factor but given the circumstances there’s no other alternative so we just have to deal with it and make the best out of it.”

…having a clean slate on Saturday night against Game 2 starter Jason Stevenson who the Senators haven’t faced all season

“There’s no expectations. You just have to go in with focus and lock in to see what he’s doing and pay attention to his patterns. I think it forces you to be more in tune mentally as opposed to a guy that you’ve seen a lot who you think you know and you take things for granted and it might not work out as planned.”

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• Tyler Moore, Chris Rahl, and Leonard Davis all had multi-hit games as each went 2 for 4.

• Rahl made a terrific one-hop strike to Derek Norris at home to nail Chris Dominguez to end the Flying Squirrels’ rally in the sixth inning.

• The Senators’ first three batters in the order (Erik Komatsu, Josh Johnson, and Norris) went a combined 0 for 12 as the team struggled to get anything going on offense.

• Arnesen matched a career best in strikeouts with 10.

Next Game: Saturday 6:05 @ The Diamond vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels
Probables: Shairon Martis (HAR) 8-6, 3.05 vs. Jason Stevenson (RIC) 1-0, 1.29

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