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Fernandez home run lifts Yard Goats to win over Richmond

Hartford outfielder Vince Fernandez had a great homestand, hitting .440 with four home runs including the game-winning home run Wednesday against Richmond.

HARTFORD, April 17 — Yard Goats outfielder Vince Fernandez made a huge impression during his first homestand at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

In his first seven games in Hartford, Fernandez hit .440, going 11-for-25 with 10 RBI, four home runs and three doubles. His fourth home run of the season in the sixth inning was the game-winning hit on Wednesday afternoon as Hartford beat the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 4-3 before a sellout crowd of 6,082.

For the second straight game, Fernandez had three hits – going 3-for-4 with one RBI. His solo home run in the sixth inning sailed into the upper deck in right field to give Hartford (6-8) a two-run lead, 4-2.

The Yard Goats pitching staff closed out the game. Yard Goats starter Ty Culbreth went five innings before yielding to reliever Philip Diehl, who pitched two scoreless innings. Richmond (6-5) cut the lead to one in the eighth inning.

Ryan Howard got a leadoff single off Hartford reliever Logan Cozart. After a walk, Howard scored on a RBI single by pinch hitter Chris Shaw – setting the stage for a dramatic ninth inning.

Yard Goats closer Ben Bowden pitched out of a ninth inning jam to earn his third save of the year. Thanks to a pair of singles, Richmond had runners on first and second base with one out. But Bowden struck out the final two batters of the game – Howard and Jalen Miller — to secure the win.

Culbreth pitched five innings and improved to 2-1 on the season. He gave up two runs on three hits, walked three and struck out a season-high seven. Hartford pitchers struck out 14 batters in the game.

With back-to-back wins against Richmond, the Yard Goats closed out the seven-game homestand with a 5-2 record.  Hartford catcher Arvicent Perez added a single, double and two RBI.

Richmond (6-5) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a game-opening triple by Levi Michael and a Ryan Howard’s sacrifice fly.

The Yard Goats came right back in their half of the first against starter Logan Webb.  With two outs Tyler Nevin walked, Fernandez reached on an infield hit, Perez delivered an RBI-double down the right field line and Willie Abreu followed with a run-scoring single.  Webb helped his own cause with an RBI-single against a drawn in infield in the fifth to cut the Hartford lead to 3-2.

The Yard Goats hit the road for a three-game series in New Hampshire (Blue Jays) beginning on Thursday followed by a three-game series in Portland (Red Sox). Hartford, the Double A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, return home on April 25 with a four-game series against Harrisburg (Nationals).

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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