Coming in as one of just four teams across both MLB and MiLB that was 10 games over .500, the Senators were happy to be back home after a three-game sweep of the Curve in Altoona. And while the Fightin Phils were 6-2 in games where they scored first, Thursday night was a little different against the top team in the Eastern League. Harrisburg rode one big inning in the second to a 5-3 win, stifling the R-Phils to the tune of just one baserunner after the third inning.
The starting pitching matchup featured two right-handers with ample Eastern League experience in Tom Eshelman and Tyler Mapes. Making his second start, Eshelman worked around a bases-loaded jam in the first by striking out both Drew Ward and Eastern League Player of the Week Rhett Wiseman.
Things got busy in the second, with the Fightins producing three straight one out singles from Darick Hall, Cornelius Randolph, and Arquimedes Gamboa. Austin Bossart lifted a deep fly to left that was plenty deep to score the first run and allow the other two runners to move into scoring position, but Mapes responded with a strikeout of Eshelman to end the threat.
The lead didn’t last long, with Eshelman getting a quick first out before Tyler Goeddel and Mapes went back-to-back with base hits. Luis Garcia’s single tied the ballgame at one, and Adrian Sanchez’ double tacked on a run to make it 2-1. Ian Sagdal drove in two more with a single and Ward’s base hit completed the line of six straight base hits. Tres Barrera made the second out by hitting into a fielder’s choice, and Wiseman allowed the lineup to bat around with a run-scoring double for the seventh hit and fifth run of the frame.
Reading roared right back in the top of the third. Luke Williams and Austin Listi singled, and Darick Hall’s two-out walk gave Josh Stephen a chance to drive in a pair with a bases loaded single. Mapes struck out Gamboa with the tying runs on base, with Stephen’s huge knock being the final base hit of the night for the Fightins.
Eshelman (0-1) departed after a quick third that included a pair of strikeouts. The bullpen delivered with another brilliant outing, getting two scoreless innings and four strikeouts from both J.D. Hammer and Kyle Dohy. Addison Russ added a clean inning in the eighth, adding two more strikeouts to bring the team total to 14 over the course of the night. The Fightins only baserunner after making it 5-3 in the third came on a Bossart walk to leadoff the seventh, but he was stranded at third base as Sens pitching retired 19 of the last 20 batters they faced.