Aeros' bats explode in 16-3 win
AKRON - T.J. House and the Akron Aeros’ offense annihilated the Richmond Squirrels on Friday in a 16-3 victory at Canal Park.
House was coming off of a shaky start against the Harrisburg Senators, during which he allowed six runs on seven hits through five innings. This time around, House was dialed in as he tossed five innings of scoreless baseball.
Left-hander Michael Kickham (2-4, 4.04) started for the Squirrels, but the Aeros ensured that he didn’t stick around long.
Akron scored immediately as left fielder Ben Copeland reached base on an error in the home half of the first and stole second. After designated hitter Adam Abraham drew a walk, first baseman Chun Chen singled to plate Copeland, giving Akron the early 1-0 lead.
The Aeros struck again in the third catcher Roberto Perez led off with a walk and advanced to second as Abraham singled. Chen continued his 4-for-5 day with a double to plate both runners, boosting the lead to 3-0.
The fourth inning was a big one for the Aeros as they scored five runs. Kickham surrendered three straight singles to load the bases before walking Perez to add another run. Centerfielder Tim Fedroff grounded into a force out to score second baseman Ryan Rohlinger and a wild pitch plated third baseman Kyle Bellows. That ended the day for Kickham, who posted a line of 3.2 innings pitched, yielding seven runs (six earned) on six hits and three walks while striking out two.
Right-hander Andy Reichard, who replaced Kickham, was unable to stop the bleeding as Abraham drew a walk and Fedroff scored on another wild pitch. Chen remained the big story of the evening as he sent another double into left to plate Abraham, advancing the lead to 8-0.
The Aeros tacked on another run in the fifth as Rohlinger singled and scored on a double off the bat of Perez. Meanwhile, House continued to tame the Squirrels until the sixth inning, when he walked second baseman Ryan Cavan, who scored when first baseman Daniel Mayora doubled to right.
Loek Van Mil replaced House to start the seventh, ending House’s evening after six innings, surrendering just one run on two hits, four walks and five strikeouts.
Van Mil tossed a flawless inning for the Aeros before he gave way to Toru Murata in the eighth.
The biggest inning of the night occurred in the home half of the eighth as the Aeros plated seven runs on Richmond reliever Ari Ronick.
Fedroff led off with a walk and Abraham had his second hit of the night with a double to center. Cue Chen, who added his fifth RBI of the day with a single to score Fedroff. Shortstop Juan Diaz reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Abraham and Chen scored on a wild pitch after he advanced to third on a single by right fielder Thomas Neal. Once Ronick walked Rohlinger, Jose Flores entered the game to pitch for Richmond. Bellows ensured that no men would be left on base as he greeted Flores with a grand slam to center, bumping the Aeros’ lead to 16-1.
The Squirrels, however, were not done as they managed to push two more runs across the plate in the ninth. After Murata committed a throwing error to surrender one run, he allowed right fielder Nick Liles to single to score catcher Johnny Monell. Murata managed to regroup with one man in scoring position as he instigated a pair of line-drive outs to end the ballgame.
The Aeros ended the evening with 16 hits as they hit 8-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Chen is now hitting .311 on the year after his 4-for-5, five RBI day, and Bellows also hit 4-for-5 with four RBIs thanks to his grand slam.
Next, the Aeros will send lefty Giovanni Soto (3-2, 4.46) to the mound to face Richmond righty Justin Fitzgerald (3-1, 3.18).
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.