Akron RubberDucks strike early, beat the Altoona Curve, 5-4
ALTOONA, Pa. – Following Tuesday’s heartbreaking walk-off loss at the hands of the Altoona Curve, the Akron RubberDucks stormed out of the gates Wednesday, leading to a 5-4 victory.
The RubberDucks scored in each of the first four innings and held off a late push by Altoona to secure a momentum-building win leading into their home-opening series with the Bowie Baysox.
Akron’s starting pitcher Gabriel Arias allowed two runs, both unearned, through five innings and struck out three Curve batters. Arias, signed as a non-drafted free agent in December of 2013, made his first appearance in Double-A following his 2013 campaign at the High-A level with the Philadelphia Phillies organization. The Dominican-born right-hander controlled the strike zone effectively, throwing 65.2 percent of his pitches for strikes. He did not walk a batter.
The RubberDucks offense pounded out nine hits and four doubles, but once again struggled with runners in scoring position. With only two hits in 13 such chances and seven men left on base, the RubberDucks benefited from a crucial error by the Curve to score two unearned runs. In the top half of the first inning, Altoona left fielder Andy Vasquezmisplayed a fly ball by Joe Wendle, allowing Francisco Lindor to score. Wendle advanced to third base on the error and scored on a sacrifice fly the next at bat.
Tyler Naquin and Giovanny Urshela led the way for the RubberDucks with two hits apiece. Both Naquin and Urshela doubled and scored a run, while Lindor added an RBI double. Tony Wolters continued his scorching start to the season by knocking his second double of the year and scoring a run. The second-baseman-turned-catcher is batting .444 on the year.
For Altoona, four players notched multiple hits, while second baseman Gift Ngoepe and left fielder Andy Vasquez provided two RBIs apiece. Vasquez also connected on his first home run of 2014, a two-run shot off of newly-acquiredDuke von Schamann. Von Schamann was acquired April 6 from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for left-handed pitcher Colt Hynes. The Curve out hit the RubberDucks 10-9 and performed better with runners in scoring position, but the error in the first proved too costly to overcome.
With Wednesday’s win, the RubberDucks now sit at 3-3, 1.5 games back of the first-place Bowie Baysox.
Thursday’s game will be surrounded by more buzz than usual, as the RubberDucks are scheduled to take the field at Canal Park for the first time in 2014. The team is not only set to unveil a new name, but new uniforms, a new mascot, and a renovated stadium as well.
Aside from the usual grandeur of opening day, the other reason for excitement for RubberDucks fans is Cody Anderson, the team’s scheduled starting pitcher. Anderson, a consensus top-10 prospect in the Indians’ organization, will be making his second start of the year after being named the Cleveland Indians Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013. In his first start of 2014, the righty out of Feather River Community College was superb, earning a victory and allowing just one run on four hits through six innings.
Matching up against Anderson and the RubberDucks will be the Baysox’ Tyler Wilson, a former 10th round pick out of the University of Virginia. In his only appearance this season, Wilson was also superb, spinning a three-hit shutout over six innings.
The much anticipated first pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m.