HARTFORD, April 11 – In the final home game of the season-opening homestand, the Hartford Yard Goats finally sent the fans at Dunkin’ Donuts Park home happy with a victory.
Rookie Sam Hilliard hit a towering home run in the second inning and three Yard Goat hurlers limited the Richmond Flying Squirrels to five hits as the Yard Goats prevailed, 3-1 on Wednesday night before an announced crowd of 4,189 fans.
Hartford (1-6) had lost their first six games of the season, piling up 66 strikeouts in the losing streak – its longest season-opening streak since dropping their first seven games of the year in 2010. But the Yard Goats got the bat on the ball Wednesday, fanning just nine times and getting six hits.
Hilliard’s second home run of the year was a two-run blast into the upper deck to give Hartford – the Double A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies – a 2-0 lead. Richmond, the Double A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, cut the lead to one thanks to an RBI single in the fourth inning from Miguel Gomez.
Hartford stretched the lead to 3-1 thanks to a RBI triple from Yonathan Daza in the fifth inning.
Richmond (4-3) threatened in the ninth inning against Yard Goats closer Matt Pierpont. He gave up a one-out walk to Aramis Garcia before Jerry Sands popped out to shortstop for the second out. But Richmond’s Jonah Arenado ripped a double to left field allowing Garcia to move to third base.
But with two runners in scoring position, Pierpont was able to strike out Dylan Davis looking to get his first save of the season. Pierpont has won 15 games in two season for the Yard Goats.
Hartford starter Ryan Castellani went six innings and allowed just three hits while striking out six. Reliever Mitch Hornacek struck out five in two innings of work while allowing one hit. The Yard Goat pitching staff fanned 12 Richmond hitters.
Home runs by Wes Rogers and Brendan Rodgers were not enough on Tuesday night as Richmond handed Hartford their sixth straight loss with an 8-6 victory. Arenado had a grand slam to lift Richmond.
Arenado, the younger brother of Colorado Rockie All-Star Nolan Arenado, slugged a grand slam home run below the video board in left field in the fifth inning to lift Richmond into the lead, 6-2.
Richmond took an early 2-0 lead before Rogers tied the game with his first Double A home run in the fourth inning that bounced off the top of the wall in left center field.
With temperatures nearing the freezing mark, Richmond added an unearned run in the sixth to extend the lead to 7-2, before Hartford mounted a comeback on a two-run homer by Rodgers in the same inning. The Goats added two more runs in the eighth on an RBI infield single by Chris Rabago and a wild pitch to score Rogers to cut the lead to 7-6. Richmond added an additional run in the ninth.
Brian Mundell led the Hartford nine-hit attack with four singles in five at bats. Garrett Hampson added two hits, while Rodgers and Rogers each had two RBI with their home runs. For Richmond, Ryan Howard had three hits, including a home run and Arenado had a grand slam and double to top Richmond’s 10-hit output.
Hartford begins their first road trip of the season on Friday night when they travel to Manchester, N.H., to face the Fisher Cats who swept the Yard Goats in a four-game series last week.
Hartford 3, Richmond 1
Richmond (4-3) 000 100 000 – 1-5-1
Hartford (1-6) 020 010 00x – 3-6-0
Shaun Anderson, Dan Slania (7), Ryan Halstead (8) and Aramis Garcia; Ryan Castellani, Mitch Hornacek (7), Matt Pierpont (9) and Dom Nunez; WP: Castellani (1-0); LP: Anderson (1-1); H: Hornacek 1; Save: Pierpont 1; 2B: Jonas Arenado (Ri); 3B: Yonathan Daza (H); HR: Sam Hilliard (H)
Richmond 8, Hartford 6
Richmond (4-2) 101 041 001 – 8-10-0
Hartford (0-6) 000 202 020 – 6-9-2
Taylor, McCasland (6), Cyr (8), Black (9) and Garcia; Schlitter, Magliaro (5), Schuh (7), Pierpont (9) and Rabago; WP: Taylor (1-0); LP: Magliaro (1-1); Save – Black 3; 2B: Aramis Garcia (Ri); HR: Ryan Howard (Ri), Arenado (Ri), Brandon Rodgers (H), Wes Rogers (H)