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Espino leads Aeros to 7-1 win

Espino takes no-hit bid into seventh inning

Espino leads Aeros to 7-1 win
Paolo Espino (Photo: Lianna Holub)
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AKRON – The Akron Aeros took full advantage of a six-inning no-hit bid from starter Paolo Espino on Tuesday night as they picked up a 7-1 win over the Trenton Thunder.

Lefty Matt Tracy (1-1, 16.20) received the start for the Thunder. Tracy is a 6'3 alumnus of the University of Mississippi and was drafted in the 24th round by the New York Yankees in 2011.

The Aeros struck first as shortstop Jose Ramirez led off with a walk and swiped second. Centerfielder Tyler Holt followed with a single to right and Ramirez scored on a single by first baseman Chun Chen. After catcher Chris Wallace tapped into a double play, left fielder Quincy Latimore singled to plate Holt, giving the Aeros the early 2-0 lead.

Two more touched the dish for the Aeros in the third as Ramirez ignited the fire again with a lead-off single. Holt and Chen laced a pair of back-to-back singles that scored Ramirez and Wallace produced a sacrifice fly to bring Holt home.

Tracy lasted into the sixth, where he lasted just two batters. Tracy surrendered a one-out double to third basemanKyle Bellows, which resulted in Kelvin Perez entering the game to replace Tracy.

Second baseman Ronny Rodriguez greeted Perez with a single that scored Bellows. With two out, Ramirez earned his second hit of the night with another single to score Rodriguez and give the Aeros the 6-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Espino carried his bid for a no-hitter into the seventh. After yielding a lead-off walk for his third free pass of the game and a fly out, Espino surrendered a double to Trenton designated hitter Kyle Roller for the Thunder's first hit of the evening. Right fielder Tyler Austin, who drew the lead-off walk, scored on a sacrifice fly by centerfielder Slade Heathcott to put the Thunder on the board.

That ended the outing for Espino, who was replaced with Kyle Landis, sealing Espino's line at 6.2 innings, allowing just one run on one hit, three walks and four strikeouts.

The Aeros added one more in the eighth as Rodriguez tripled for his second hit of the night and scored on a single by catcher Jeremy Lucas, advancing the Aeros to the 7-1 lead.

Landis cruised through 1.1 scoreless innings to maintain the lead for Bryan Price, who entered the game to pitch the ninth. Price kicked the coffin shut on the Thunder as he made quick work of them to preserve the Aeros' 7-1 win.

Tuesday's win boosts Espino to a tie for the most wins in Aeros' franchise history at 23. Jamie Brown won 23 games during his run with the Aeros from 1998-2002. Aeros' manager Edwin Rodriguez noted that Espino's outing was his best so far this season.

"He was pitching to contact and he was attacking the hitters," Edwin Rodriguez said. "He was more consistent with his fastball but theykey on Espino tonight was he was pitching to contact. He was attacking the hitters, he was getting ahead in the count."

Edwin Rodriguez added that Espino managed to keep the Trenton line-up on edge. "None of the hitters looked comfortable at the plate," he explained. "He was changing his speed, he was spotting his fastball. Nobody there was looking comfortable at the plate, so he was keeping hitters off balance."

Espino said he felt good as soon as he started warming up for the game. "I knew I was going to have good command. I was just going to go out there and try to do my best to keep that good feeling throughout the game."

Though he was aware of the no-hit bid taking place, Espino said surrendering the double to Roller in the seventh wasn't the end of the world.

"That's a good credit on the hitter," Espino pointed out. "He put the ball in play and that's what he needed to do. I wasn't devastated. I was just going to keep pitching and try to get out of that inning."

Next, the Aeros send righty Toru Murata (1-2, 2.60) to the bump to face Trenton right-hander Caleb Cotham (1-1, 4.85) in the final game of the series.

Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.

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