R-Phils come up short in first-half playoff bid on Tuesday
It wasn’t a huge crowd–and perhaps only about 40% of them knew the significance of the game. It was about the team last night in Baseballtown, and boy did they respond. Scoreboard watching is irrelevant if you can’t take care of your business, so that’s what the R-Phils set out to do. They did it versus the big lefty Sam Hentges and his electric fastball. Hentges doesn’t have gaudy stats, but he has pitched against Reading twice before–and that resulted in his only win plus another start where he went 7.2 and gave up only two runs.
The Reading batters were ready, though. Particularly the top of the order where Mickey Moniak, Josh Stephen, and Darick Hall powered the team. Catcher Austin Bossart got into the act with a 3-run bomb. They were dialed in last night, playing some of their best baseball of the season.
The result in Trenton wasn’t what we wanted, but this Reading club is poised to contend in the second half of the season.
Here’s the official press release following the game:
Taking Care of Business
Fightins score 10 runs for first time to get to season-high 11 games over
(Reading, PA) – The only scenario for the Fightin Phils to win the Eastern Division’s first half was via a win and a Thunder loss at home against the Flying Squirrels. The first part was to take care of business, which Reading did thanks to a season-high 10 runs on 10 base hits in a 10-2 win against the RubberDucks. The second part was still up in the air, but despite the outcome from Trenton, Reading (39-28) won for the fourth time in the last five to get to 11 games over .500 for the first time.
After losing two of his last three starts, it was imperative that Bailey Falter get off to a fast start after falling in Akron in his first appearance against them just two weeks ago. In the top of the first, shortstop Ernie Clement started his busy night with an infield single, but Falter induced a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Ka’ai Tom to help himself retire the side in order.
In the home half, Josh Stephen swatted a one-out double to left center field, and Darick Hall brought in his team-leading 41st run with a single through the right side for a 1-0 lead. Hall later led off the third inning with another single, stole second base, and scored on a two-out bleeder from Cornelius Randolph that got into right field for a 2-0 advantage. Arquimedes Gamboa prolonged the inning with a walk, and Austin Bossart came through with the first big punch on a three-run homer to left for a 5-0 lead.
The RubberDucks pecked away at the deficit in the top of the fifth, finally cashing in after getting the leadoff man on for the fourth time with Tyler Krieger’s double getting the action started. Another in-between double from Mitch Longo put a pair of runners in scoring position, and number nine hitter Alexis Pantoja got Akron on the board with a groundout to short. Clement then guided his second triple down the right field line to make it 5-2, but Falter (5-4) closed out his night with a pair of flyouts to make it through five innings.
Hall’s 13th homer tacked on a pair in the bottom of the fifth, with his 43 RBIs pushing him into a tie for second in the Eastern League. With the lead back to five at 7-2, the R-Phils pushed across another run against reliever Jared Robinson when Stephen wacked his second double to score Mickey Moniak after a one-out single in the seventh inning.
Lefthander Anthony Gose got the first out in the bottom of the eighth, but loaded the bases after a pair of walks and a single by Luke Williams. Moniak’s second single made it 9-2, and Stephen’s walk scored the 10th run to put the game away for good. Jeff Singer struck out three batters in the ninth to complement Connor Brogdon, who tossed three scoreless innings for the second time and also struck out three RubberDucks.