When you think of the Vice President of a team, you likely think of the day-to-day business operations, sales growth and suits. While Todd Parnell, "Parney" for short, encompasses all of those things, being named Eastern League Executive of the year in 2013 for the second time and leading Richmond to the highest average attendance in each of the last three seasons, he is also the team's good luck charm.
Last season, with Richmond on a franchise record 15-game losing streak, Parney decided that it was time for a change. He donned the Flying Squirrels uniform and decided he was going to camp out until the team won. That night the team snapped their losing streak and Parney was able to return to work.
Heading into Saturday's game against the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers), the Richmond Flying Squirrels had lost each of their last 14 games. The front office decided it was time for some "Parney Magic" and the VP donned the uniform one more time.
The Flying Squirrels won in a rout, 9-0 behind an outstanding pitching performance from Matt Gage, who fired eight innings of scoreless, one-hit ball, walking one and striking out five. Gage took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, which was broken up by the first batter he faced in JaCoby Jones. A pair of ground outs and a fly out would end the frame and the right-hander's evening. For Gage, it's his first win of the season, bringing his record to 1-4 despite a solid 3.55 ERA.
Gage has been magnificent over his past two starts, allowing just one unearned run over 13 innings pitched while giving up six hits, two walks and striking out twelve. Those two outings have lowered his earned run average nearly two runs, from 5.40 to its current 3.55.
I reached out to the Flying Squirrels front office and asked them if they considered leaving their good luck charm out there to recoup some of those wins, and they said that they did mull it over, but they didn't want to abuse the special Parney powers.
It didn't matter on Sunday as Richmond collected the win, 6-5. The back-to-back wins are the team's first since April 25 and 26 against the Baysox. Tyler Beede got the start for Richmond on Sunday, and although he had a good game, it wasn't necessarily his best start of the season. Beede tossed 7 innings, allowed eight hits, walked one and saw four SeaWolves cross the plate--only three of them earned it. Phil McCormick came on in the 8th, allowed one hit and walked one, but escaped unscathed. He would collect the win, as Richmond scored four in the bottom half of the frame to take their first lead.
Shortstop Randy Moreno connected for a two-out double in the 8th, and he would be brought home by centerfielder Austin Slater, who tripled. Slater scored the fourth run of the inning on a single from left fielder Tyler Horan.
You can say Richmond was due to bust out of their slump, but for me, I believe in the power of Parney.