Sens Pound Fightins into Submission

Photo courtesy Harrisburg Senators Grounds Crew

Photo courtesy Harrisburg Senators Grounds Crew

Senators 9, Fightin Phils 2

It’s no secret that the Senators have struggled this season at Metro Bank Park. They came into Friday night’s game against the Reading Fightin Phils with the worst won-loss home record in the Eastern League at 8-15 while scoring about a half of a run less per game.

So when the Senators came alive offensively on their recent seven-game roadtrip (.307 team batting average with 12 home runs), fans could only hope they brought some of that magic back to City Island with them. After one game, that sure looks to be the case as they drubbed the Phils 9-2 behind a pair of home runs from Josh Johnson, three RBIs from Destin Hood, and a surprisingly spectacular pitching performance from Rob Gilliam and Brian Rauh.

Harrisburg got to Reading starter Austin Wright early and often as they rapped out nine runs on ten hits in the first four innings off the southpaw. That was more than enough for the return of Gilliam to the Senators as he stymied the Fightins for five innings and struck out the side twice. Rauh made his Double-A debut and picked up the save as he allowed one run on one hit in four innings of work.

Player of the Game: Josh Johnson

Dugout Chatter

“He had plus-fastball, threw the ball down, and made one mistake on a breaking ball. But I tell you what, it’s a bright spot to see where he came from last year…It’s good to see Gilly come back up here and be the way he was.” – Manager Matt LeCroy on Gilliam

“He gave me four innings that we really needed because we were pretty stuck with our pitching.” – LeCroy on Rauh’s four innings of relief

“That road trip got some guys going…Guys are just swinging it. They have a good approach and they’re attacking the baseball. With two strikes, we’re getting better at putting balls in play and doing a lot better with our situational hitting…Hopefully they remember what it feels like, what’s going on in their mind. That’s a part of baseball – knowing what that feels like when you’re doing well.” – LeCroy on the resurgent offense

the Windup

• Prior to the game, Steven Souza was activated off the disabled list after nearly a month off the shelf. The rightfielder went 2 for 4 and scored a pair of runs in his return to the team.

• The plan moving forward is for Gilliam to take Caleb Clay’s spot in the rotation and shift Clay to long relief out of the bullpen.

• Reading’s Zach Collier finished a triple shy of the cycle and is now batting .389 (14 for 36) with two doubles, three home runs and seven RBIs in nine games against the Senators this season.

• JJ’s two home run game was the first by a Senator since Jesus Valdez accomplished the feat nearly a year ago on May 27th of last season.

• Anthony Rendon sat out Friday after getting his wisdom teeth removed. The third baseman may miss additional games this weekend depending on the swelling and pain.

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