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Romero pitches Reading to share of first

Mickey Moniak (Photo by Cheryl Pursell)
Mickey Moniak is leading the Eastern League in triples with seven and helped lead Reading to a win Friday night to put them in a tie for first place. (Photo by Cheryl Pursell)

The last few days of the first-half are going to be memorable, one way or another. There were a lot of firsts at FNB Field on Friday night as the Fightins and Senators got together for a huge weekend series in the capital. With the Thunder falling in Bowie 3-0, Reading nearly won by the same score but had to hold off a furious comeback in the bottom of the ninth. Jeff Singer recorded his first save, which coupled with JoJo Romero getting his first win since his return, gave the Fightin Phils a share of first place, tying them with Trenton with just three games remaining to decide the first playoff spot in the Eastern Division.

Romero’s roughest inning was his first, although he needed just 11 pitches to work around a pair of singles from Luis Garcia and Chuck Taylor. The offense then capitalized in the top of the second against Steven Fuentes, who had defeated Romero in a 6-1 ballgame at FirstEnergy Stadium just six days prior.

Austin Listi and Cornelius Randolph reached on errors from the left side of the Senators infield, which allowed Arquimedes Gamboa to drop a sacrifice bunt for the first out. On the next pitch, Austin Bossart smacked a single through the left side and Raul Rivas made a triumphant return to the lineup with a fielder’s choice for his sixth RBI and a 2-0 lead.

The R-Phils made it 3-0 in the third when Mickey Moniak led off with his league leading seventh triple before scoring on a groundout to short from Roman Quinn. In his first Double-A game on his rehab assignment, the 2015 Eastern League All-Star played all nine innings in center field and finished 0-for-4 with a hit by pitch. Listi, Randolph, and Gamboa then prolonged the inning with two out singles, but Bossart grounded out with the bases loaded.

Starting with a two-out single from Dante Bichette Jr. in the home third, Romero (1-3) proceeded to retire 13 in a row, setting new season highs with seven scoreless innings and eight strikeouts in the process. Jakob Hernandez then extended his run with two strikeouts in the eighth, making it 10 consecutive scoreless innings over his last eight appearances. The ninth was a different story.

Harrisburg got a leadoff walk from Bichette to start the ninth as Connor Brogdon came in looking for his third save with a 3-0 lead. Following a strikeout of Taylor, Tres Barrera’s single into right put two runners on and brought up the tying run. Brogdon earned another strikeout of Ian Sagdal, but then walked Rhett Wiseman on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases and bring up the winning run.

Taking no chances, manager Shawn Williams called on Singer for the save, but a groundout to third was mishandled by Austin Listi for the Senators first run. With the lead sitting at 3-1, Singer went to the well and struck out pinch-hitter Adrian Sanchez to preserve the victory and give Reading game one of the weekend series. Bossart and Rivas each finished 2-for-4, with Bossart providing his fourth double in the sixth inning.

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