Joe Benson is making a case that he’s made the right offseason adjustments and is ready to graduate from Double-A.
Benson slammed a homer and double to drive in three runs in support of shutout hurling Sunday to give the New Britain Rock Cats a 4-0 win over the Richmond Flying Squirrels and a draw in the first series of the year.
Benson deposited the second pitch from Richmond starter Clayton Tanner for a leadoff homer in the second inning -- his first of the season -- to get the Rock Cats (2-2) started. His two-bagger came at an opportune time – with Ray Chang and Chris Parmelee on the corners in the fourth inning – for two RBI and a 3-0 lead.
Benson is batting .471 (8-for-17) with five RBI.
Steve Hirschfeld (1-0) limited the Squirrels to just one hit – a second-inning single by Roger Kieschnick – in his five-inning stint. He didn’t walk any while striking out three. He retired the final 11 he faced before the early season pitch count caught up with him.
Three southpaws finished Richmond (2-2) off. Jake Stevens followed with two innings of one-hit ball. Spencer Steedley pitched 2/3 of an inning before Tyler Robertson earned his first save by notching the last four outs.
Chang and Parmelee had two hits each. The middle of the New Britain order went 6-for-12 with four extra-base hits, scored all four runs and drove in three.
The Rock Cats travel to Harrisburg for 7 p.m. games Monday through Wednesday before opening the home portion of their 2011 campaign with a four-game weekend set against the Portland Sea Dogs, the Boston Red Sox' Double-A Eastern League affiliates.