R-Phils pitchers allow one hit and toss second shutout for fourth win
(Manchester, NH) - Monday night's opener in Manchester against the Fisher Cats brought some of the toughest conditions the Eastern League sees. It was an estimated 35 degrees at first pitch, but it felt colder with the driving wind, and the steady drizzle of rain that fell for most of the day didn't help the playing surface. But in the first of 21 meetings between the teams, the R-Phils prevailed 2-0 behind another dominant pitching performance against the defending champs.
Making his Double-A debut, Mauricio Llovera started his evening with two walks before bouncing back to retire the side in order. Then in the top of the second, Cornelius Randolph and Ali Castillo opened the inning with back-to-back singles off Fisher Cats starter Andrew Sopko. The righthander would retire the next six before Reading struck for the only run they'd need in the fourth.
Austin Listi led off with a walk, and soon got a great read on a hard shot into the right-center field gap off the bat of Castillo. An RBI triple made it 1-0, giving Castillo his third straight two-hit game. Sopko (0-1) didn't allow another hit over five innings, but the damage was already done, and Fightins pitchers kept the pressure on behind Llovera.
With his pitch count driven up by four walks, Llovera departed after four innings despite allowing just one base hit. Luke Leftwich (1-0) delivered his second hitless appearance with two perfect innings of relief, keeping it close through the sixth inning. Listi scored the second and final run in the top of the sixth by getting hit by a pitch and later advancing to third on a passed ball. Castillo sent a groundball to short that could have produced the final out, but Kevin Smith couldn't field it cleanly, allowing an unearned run to score for a 2-0 lead.
Aaron Brown backed up Leftwich with two hitless innings of relief and three strikeouts, bringing the ballgame to the ninth inning for lefthander Kyle Dohy. After earning the win with three innings in his debut on Friday night in Portland, Dohy was aiming for the first save of the season. He made things interesting with a pair of walks to put the tying runs on base, but came back to strike out the side, getting all three punchouts looking for the Fightins second shutout in five games. It marked the third time in four wins the opposition was held to two hits or less.
America's Classic Ballpark is proud to be a part of Pennsylvania's Americana Region. Season tickets for the 2019 season are available online at Fightins.com, by phone at 610-370-BALL, and in-person at the Weidenhammer Ticket Office at FirstEnergy Stadium. Follow the Fightin Phils on Twitter at @ReadingFightins, Instagram at @fightins, and like them on Facebook via www.facebook.com/fightins.
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