Watkins Twirls Near No-Hitter as 'Wolves Win Fifth Straight
The SeaWolves, courtesy of a near no-hitter from Spenser Watkins, won their fifth straight game with a 3-0, one-hit shutout of the Richmond Flying Squirrels on Thursday at The Diamond.
Erie jumped ahead in the top of the first inning against Flying Squirrels starter Keyvius Sampson. Derek Hill led off the game with his 12th double and moved to third on a Jose Azocar sacrifice bunt. Frank Schwindel brought home Hill on a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
Watkins began the first by retiring the leadoff hitter. He would walk back-to-back batters in Jalen Miller and Ryder Jones. Watkins struck out Jacob Heyward and induced a groundout from Peter Maris to retire the side.
Watkins would go on to retire the next six batters before the game went into a rain delay in the top of the fourth.
The SeaWolves remained ahead by a run into the sixth inning when, with one out, Josh Lester clubbed a solo home run to right off of Chase Johnson to make it 2-0 Erie. The home run for Lester was his 11th of the season.
Erie would add one more in the eighth against reliever Caleb Simpson. Azocar led off and was hit by a pitch. He moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on a Kody Eaves sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
Watkins faced the minimum from the second through the eighth innings and would go out for the ninth looking for history. He walked Johneshwy Fargas on four pitches to start the frame. Bryce Johnson lined out to Sergio Alcantara for the first out. Watkins then got Miller to pop out to Daniel Pinero for the second out. He worked ahead of Jones 1-2 before Jones squeaked a double down the third base line, breaking up the no-hitter with two outs in the ninth.
Erie would go to the bullpen following the knock, summoning Drew Carlton. Carlton walked Jacob Heyward, loading the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate in Maris. Carlton struck out Maris, preserving the shutout and earning his 10th save in as many chances.
Watkins (3-1) earned the win allowing one hit over a career-high 8.2 innings of work. He walked three and struck out eight which was one shy of his career-high.
Sampson (0-1) took the loss allowing a run on three hits in three innings.
The SeaWolves and Flying Squirrels meet in the second game of a four-game series on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. LHP Tarik Skubal (0-1, 0.90 ERA) takes the mound for Erie against RHP Brandon Lawson (3-5, 4.20 ERA).
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