Baseball: Monsters Sweep Opening Series … Top Tri-City 4-1

Courtesy Vermont Lake Monsters

BURLINGTON — Kevin Richards went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and an RBI double, while starter Michael Murray allowed just one run over five innings to lead the Vermont Lake Monsters to a 4-1 victory over the Tri-City ValleyCats Saturday evening at historic Centennial Field.

With the sweep of the two-game series, Vermont is 2-0 for just the fourth time in team history, matching the 2-0 starts of the 2001, 2004 and 2007 Lake Monster teams.

After striking for three runs in the bottom of the first on Friday in the seaon opener, the Lake Monsters struck again with two runs in the first on Saturday as Nick Ward led off the inning with a single and Richards followed with a two-run opposite field homer to right for the quick 2-0 lead.

Murray (1-0) allowed just one run on four hits with no walks and six strikeouts over five innings. The only run allowed came when on a sacrifice fly after a one-out Joe Perez triple in the second inning.

The Lake Monsters added insurance runs on a Jordan Diaz leadoff homer to leftcenter in the sixth and an RBI double in the seventh from Richards, who is 5-for-8 at the plate to start the year. Diaz also doubled for the second straight day to go along with his first homer of the year.

Josh Reagan followed Murray with five strikeouts over three scoreless innings, while Jose Mora recorded one strikeout in the ninth to earn the save. After a team record 19 strikeouts in the season opener, Lake Monster pitchers recorded 12 more punchouts in the victory on Saturday.

Juan Pablo Lopez (0-1) allowed three runs on seventh hits with one walk and seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings to take the loss for Tri-City, while Yeuris Ramirez had two of the ValleyCats six hits for the game (after just two hits on Friday).

Vermont heads out on the road to Connecticut for a quick two-game series against the Tigers on Sunday and Monday. The Lake Monsters return to home for the start of a three-game series against the Hudson Valley Renegades on Tuesday.