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RubberDucks win 9-1 behind home runs from Smith, Gonzalez

RubberDucks win 9-1 behind home runs from Smith, Gonzalez
Photo credit: Brittany Chay/flickr
June 30, 2014
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(Erie, Pa.) June 30, 2014 – It may have taken 73 games to get it, but Akron’s Jordan Smith made his first Double-A homer a big one.

Smith belted a two-out, three run homer to right field in the bottom of the first inning Monday night, helping the RubberDucks build a commanding early lead in a 9-1 victory over the Erie SeaWolves in the opener of a four-game series at Jerry Uht Park.

Smith, a 23-year-old right fielder who will turn 24 this Saturday, struggled through the first two months of his first AA campaign, hovering at or just below the .200 mark. Despite the slow start, manager David Wallace kept penciling Smith’s name into the lineup, and that faith and trust is now paying off. Smith definitely turned a corner in the month of June, hitting .273 with 16 RBI during the month.

In just the last three games, Smith has gone 6-12, with seven RBI. After Monday’s homer, he’s up to 30 RBI, putting him on pace for 50 this season. That production is much needed after recent injuries to two of the team’s top run-producers, Joe Wendle and Tyler Naquin.

On Monday, the RubberDucks jumped all over Erie starter Nick Avila (0-4), scoring six times in the first inning. After the initial run scored on an error, Tony Wolters lifted a sacrifice fly and Alex Lavisky laced a run-scoring single. Smith capped the inning with his blast to right. In the second inning, Ollie Linton led off with a single and shortstopErik Gonzalez ripped a two-run homer to right to make it 8-0. It was also the first AA homer for Gonzalez, who was playing in his fourth game with the RubberDucks.

The offense was plenty for Akron starter Will Roberts (8-8), who pulled even with Joe Colon for the team-lead in wins. Roberts worked seven innings and scattered five hits. He served up a home run to Erie’s Jamie Johnsonleading off the bottom of the first, but nothing thereafter in the way of runs. Roberts walked none and struck out five, and beat Erie for the second time this season.

In the last two games, both wins, Akron (48-35) has scored 20 runs on 29 hits. Anthony Gallas went 3-4, with three singles, and Bryan LaHair finished with a pair of singles. Wolters added an RBI single in the fifth, giving him two RBI on the night.

The RubberDucks and SeaWolves (34-46) will play game two of the series Tuesday night at 7:05. RHP Gabriel Arias (5- 2, 3.48) will oppose Erie LHP Kyle Ryan (5-7, 3.93). The game will be broadcast on WARF 1350 AM and www.AkronRubberDucks.com.

The Akron RubberDucks are the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The 2014 season is the 18th since moving to Canal Park and the first as the RubberDucks. For more information, including official team merchandise, go to www.AkronRubberDucks.com or call 330-253-5151. Fans may also follow the team on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/AkronRubberDucks and Twitter at @AkronRubberDuck.

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