There was a 62-minute rain delay in the 12th inning and center field-loitering skunk in the 14th.
Neither of those factors, though, were what made the Erie SeaWolves cringe after their Eastern League marathon with Richmond at Jerry Uht Park.
In a game that began Thursday night and ended Friday morning, the SeaWolves lost for the eighth consecutive time when the Flying Squirrels won 7-6 in 15 innings at Jerry Uht Park. Only a sliver of the 2,096 fans were still in the stands when Richmond reliever Austin Fleet struck out Brandon Douglas for the final out at 12:33 a.m.
The 4 hours, 25 minutes of action didn’t include the extra-inning rain delay.
The SeaWolves slumped to 46-59 after their longest game at Uht Park since May 19, 2011. They also lost that afternoon, when Trenton scored three times in the top of the 16th for a 9-6 victory.
– Mike Copper
Richmond (54-52) scored its game-winning run off David Kopp (0-1), Erie’s fourth pitcher.
Kopp retired the first two Squirrels in the 15th, but then allowed a single to Tommy Joseph and a walk to Mark Minicozzi. Fellow catcher Johnny Monell then pinch ran for Joseph.
Richmond right fielder Juan Perez, who only reached on a fielder’s choice in his previous six at-bats, then lined an opposite-field single to right. Monell was waved around third for the game’s first run since the bottom of the eighth.
Avisail Garcia reached on an infield single to lead off Erie’s 15th, but remained there as Fleet struck out Rawley Bishop, Tony Plagman and Douglas.
Fleet’s save made a winner of Chris Wilson (1-0), who pitched the previous three innings and got out of jams in Erie’s 12th and 13th innings.
Erie pitcher Kelvin De La Cruz was long gone from the game by the time it was determined. The left-hander became the SeaWolves’ starter hours after he cleared waivers and was activated to their roster.
The parent Detroit Tigers designated De La Cruz for assignment Monday, when he was still on the disabled list because of arm soreness.
SeaWolves infielder Corey Jones was demoted to Single-A Lakeland (Fla.) to make room for De La Cruz, who showed the effects of his layoff when Richmond’s first four batters reached against him.
Gary Brown walked, Ehire Adrianza singled and Daniel Mayora doubled to produce the Flying Squirrels’ first run. Joseph then hammered a three-run home run off Uht Park’s left-field wall to complete the visitors’ 4-0 burst.
Brown and Joseph were listed the San Francisco Giants’ top two prospects in Baseball America’s 2012 handbook.
It only got marginally better for De La Cruz when Luke Anders led off the Squirrels’ second with a line-drive homer to right-center.
Erie replied for its first run that same inning. Jordan Lennerton doubled off Richmond starter Daryl Maday and later scored from third on Bishop’s RBI ground out to short.
Bishop was on base in the bottom of the fifth when Plagman halved Richmond’s lead to 6-3. Plagman’s two-run homer to right didn’t land until it bounced off the back of Uht Park’s garage roof beyond Holland Street.
Lennerton then pulled Erie within one at 6-5. Niuman Romero and Nick Castellanos scored on his sharp line single off Uht Park’s short left-field fence.
Those RBIs upped Lennerton’s total to 66. The first baseman went into Thursday third in the league for that category.
The SeaWolves had a great chance to at least tie the game in the seventh. They had Jamie Johnson and Douglas at first and second with one out when Romero ground a pitch down the right-field line with Minicozzi out of position.
However, the Richmond first baseman was able to recover just in time to make a diving stop of the ball and retire Romero himself.
Johnson and Douglas advanced on the play, but were stranded in scoring position when Castellanos bounced out to short.
Not so in the eighth, when Erie did tie the score at 6-6.
Lennerton led off with a single and advanced to third on Garcia’s slicing single to right. Richmond brought its infield in, but Lennerton still scored when Mayora double-clutched Bishop’s bouncer to third and was forced to go for the out at first.
The loss not only extended Erie’s losing streak, but was its second straight by a 7-6 score in extra innings. Akron ended the SeaWolves’ 1-7 road trip with Wednesday’s win by that same outcome in 11 innings.