Urshela's clutch hit helps end Aeros' losing streak
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And when the opposition gives up back-to-back walks in the eighth inning of a tie game, go for the jugular.
Such was the approach used by Akron Aeros third baseman Giovanny Urshela, who cracked a two-out, RBI single to center field in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday night, lifting the Aeros to a 3-2 victory over the Altoona Curve in the opener of a five-game series at Canal Park.
The Aeros (37-41) snapped a three-game losing streak, but remained 6 ½ games behind first-place Harrisburg. The Senators won their fourth straight, 11-6 at Bowie.
Urshela, who homered in Wednesday’s loss at Harrisburg, laced the first pitch he saw from Altoona reliever Quinton Miller (1-2) into center field to drive in Jesus Aguilar with the go-ahead, and ultimately winning, run. Miller started the inning by retiring Cedric Hunter on a fly-out, but then invited trouble by issuing consecutive walks to Aguilar and Carlos Moncrief. When Adam Abraham clubbed a deep fly-out to center, Aguilar moved to third. Urshela then delivered his second hit of the night, and collected his 24th RBI of the season.
The Altoona ninth wasn’t without drama, as Aeros righthander Trey Haley tried to return the favor. Attempting to secure his second save of the season, Haley allowed a double and two walks of his own to load the bases with two outs. In the end, though, Haley avoided Miller’s fate by inducing a slug bunt by Gregory Polanco that went about 12 inches. Aeros catcher Jake Lowery fielded the ball and stepped on home plate for a force out that ended the game.
The win went to Indians righthander Brett Myers (1-0), who made his third rehab appearance with the Aeros. Myers tossed a scoreless eighth, keeping the game tied at 2-2, on his watch. He walked one and struck out one as he continued testing out his cranky right elbow. He’s been on the Indians DL since April 20th.
The Aeros held a 2-0 lead until the sixth, when the Curve finally reached starter Toru Murata for a run on Alex Dickerson’s RBI single. Murata worked six innings and scattered five hits, and pitched brilliantly against Altoona for the second time this season. The run he allowed in the sixth wrecked a 14-inning scoreless streak for Murata, and a 23-inning streak without allowing an earned run.
Altoona (34-44) tied the game in the seventh against Indians righthander Blake Wood, who was also making a rehab appearance. After a lead-off single, Carlos Paulion bounced a tailor-made double-play ball to short. The relay to first, however, broke through the webbing of Aguilar’s mitt for an error. After Paulino stole second, he was chased home on Drew Maggi’s single to tie the game at 2-2, and send Murata home with a no-decision.
Akron took the early lead off Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon in the first on three consecutive two-out hits. Singles by Hunter and Aguilar preceded an RBI double by Moncrief. That two-bagger extended Moncrief’s hitting streak to seven games. In the second inning, Urshela was hit by a pitch and later scored on a ground ball by Jose Ramirezthat was dropped for an error by the shortstop Andy Vasquez. Taillon worked seven innings and allowed just those two runs. He fielded his position flawlessly, flagging down two line drives, and turning one into a double play.
The Aeros and Curve will play a doubleheader on Friday afternoon beginning at 5:35. In game one, RHP David Bromberg (3-7, 3.14) will start for Altoona, and LHP Matt Packer (5-5, 2.64) will counter for Akron. In the nightcap, RHP Ethan Hollingsworth (4-3, 3.47) will get the ball for Altoona, and RHP Cole Cook (1-0, 7.05) will start for the Aeros. Both games will be seven innings.