Western Division Playoffs Game 3: Flying Squirrels 2, Senators 1


The Senators’ last swing of the 2011 season


With one literal crack of the bat, Chris Dominguez ended the scoreless pitchers’ duel as his two-run, broken bat home run barely cleared the leftfield wall and Chris Rahl’s glove to propel the Flying Squirrels to a 2-1 victory clinching the Western Division series sweep over the Senators.

Senators’ starter Tanner Roark did his part as he tied a season-high with 10 strikeouts over his seven strong innings of work allowing only the two runs on the critical home run in the bottom of the sixth inning. But the offense once again sputtered against the Richmond staff as Flying Squirrels’ starter Justin Fitzgerald began the game retiring 18 of the first 19 batters he faced. The Senators’ best chances to plate enough runs to tie the game up came in the seventh and eighth innings as the imminent threat of an early winter seemed to awaken their bats.

In the seventh, it took a diving catch by Ryan Lollis on a drive by Tim Pahuta in the left-centerfield gap to prevent Tyler Moore from scoring the Senators’ first run and chipping away at the Flying Squirrels’ lead. In the eighth, an Erik Komatsu double and Stephen King single plated a run and cut the lead in half but their rally died when Derek Norris grounded sharply into a 6-4 fielder’s choice.

One inning later, the Senators could only muster a two-out walk to Pahuta before Leonard Davis struck out to end their season much earlier than they expected.

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Harrisburg managed to only score three runs in the three games. Like two boxers in the ring, Richmond just wasn’t a good matchup for the Senators as their starting pitchers mixed speeds, got ahead in counts, and dared you to pull the ball. All recipes for disaster against the set of batters in the Harrisburg lineup.

Richmond now squares off against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats for the Eastern League Championship.

Lollis’ catch in the seventh inning had him sprawled on the ground and playing with the ball and glove for a couple of seconds before 3B umpire Joe Hannigan signalled out. I’m not saying he didn’t catch it, but Hannigan did an abysmal job in the lack of hustle to get out there and better his angle to see if the ball was clearly caught or not.

The game marked Terry Byrom’s 1,000th Senators’ broadcast.

 

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Manager Tony Beasley on separating the success of the season from the outcome of the playoffs…

“We’re just going to focus on the positives this year. We had a ton of them, moments where we did something great. The 10-game winning streak. The way we went and won seven on our last road trip. Things like that. There are so many accomplishments that those guys did. We don’t have to hang our head on these last three games…They competed and battled. We just came up on the short end, but we’re not disappointed in the effort level. I’m proud of the guys.”

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