Aeros hold on for a 4-3 victory
Akron, OH – Just like Saturday night, the Aeros took a 3-run lead into the 9th inning, but unlike that game, the Aeros held on to defeat the New Britain Rock Cats 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at Canal Park despite a Rock Cat rally in the final inning.
After explosive hitting for both the Aeros and Rock Cats in the first 2 games of the series, both lineups were a little more reserved, resulting in pitchers. Akron and New Britain each managed 17 hits on Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday both teams each had 9 hits.
The Rock Cats reached the scoreboard first in the top of the 4thinning, as Josmil Pinto hit an RBI single to score Eddie Rosario. Pinto has hit 50 RBI for New Britain.
In the bottom half of the inning, Tyler Holt led off with a single and stole third base, his 12th stolen base of the year. The Aeros loaded the bases with 1 out, and Holt was driven in by Chris Wallace to tie the game at 1 apiece.
Wallace has 8 RBI with the Aeros since he joined the team from Columbus on June 13.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, the Aeros threatened to score but did not convert. Jose Ramirez hit a single and reached 3rd on a stolen base and an error at 2nd, but Holt popped out to end the inning.
Fortunately for the Aeros, they did take advantage and took the lead in the 6th. Cedric Hunter led off the inning with a solo home run into center field for his 5th home run with Akron and his 7th total this season.
Later in the inning, Chris Wallace smacked a solo home run to left field for his 2nd of the year.
The Aeros added an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th inning, which proved to be crucial as Carlos Moncrief hit an RBI single to score Cedric Hunter, extending Akron’s lead to 4-1. Moncrief has 35 RBI in 2013.
However, the Rock Cats rallied in the 9th, as they had done the night before. Jordan Parraz of New Britain was walked to start the inning and was driven in by an RBI double from Curt Smith, his 14th RBI of the year.
Smith crossed home plate on a sacrifice fly from Danny Santana to shorten the Rock Cats’ deficit to 1 run. This was Santana’s 26th RBI.
With two outs, the Rock Cats loaded the bases, but Designated Hitter Miguel Sano popped out in the infield to end the rally and the game.
Cedric Hunter led the Aeros’ hitting on Sunday afternoon, going 2-for-3 with a home run and an RBI, increasing his batting average to .300.
Jose Ramirez went 1-for-4 with a single. He leads the Eastern League with 48 runs scored and 23 stolen bases. Tyler Holt is third in the league with 47 runs scored in the season
Matt Packer took the mound and put together an impressive performance, allowing 1 run and 7 hits while striking out 9 Rock Cats. He earned the win and is 5-5 for the season with a 2.64 ERA.
Packer believes that his pitching has improved with every outing.
“I felt good today, I was able to throw my breaking balls: my fastball, changeup, curveball for strikes tonight. I was able to mix those up and keep them (the Rock Cats) off balance.”
Packer also commented that he needs to be consistent in order to continue being successful.
“I need to stick with what I’ve been doing. Every week I’m working on my fastball command, and keep working on those breaking balls so I can be ready for the next start.
Packer did not walk a single batter. In all 3 games against the Rock Cats, the Aeros’ starters (Packer, Toru Murata, and Will Roberts) combined for 0 walks.
Packer was relieved by Austin Adams, who faced 4 batters and struck out 3 of them. He threw 16 pitches, 13 of which were called for strikes.
Chen-Chang Lee entered the game in the 9th but ultimately had difficulties. He allowed 2 runs, 2 hits, and 2 walks as well as hit a batter before he was relieved by Jose Flores with 2 outs and the bases loaded.
Flores finished off the Rock Cats and recorded his 8th save of the season.
Manager Edwin Rodriguez was impressed with all of the starting pitchers during the series, but believes that the bullpen could use some work.
“All three of them (the starting pitchers) were good; they had very strong outings. But now the bullpen has to get something going, but we are playing well.”
Trevor May started for the Rock Cats and also pitched well, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched. However, his two home runs in the 6th inning gave him the loss and he is 6-4 for the season.
With Sunday’s win, the Aeros move up to 36-38, 3.5 games behind Harrisburg for first place in the Western Division. The Rock Cats drop to 35-39 and are 4th place in the Eastern Division.
For the next week, Rodriguez mentioned that the Aeros need to be prepared for strong pitching, especially in Harrisburg.
“They (Harrisburg) have very good pitching. So we have to go out there and find a way to score runs.”
With Sunday’s victory, the Aeros win the series against the Rock Cats conclude their homestand, going 2-4. Starting Monday night, the Aeros kick off a series in Harrisburg against the Harrisburg Senators. Brett Brach is scheduled to start for the Aeros as he faces off against the Senators’ Taylor Jordan.
The first pitch is set for 7:00 pm.
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