Aeros can't get clutch hit, lose 2-1
AKRON - The Akron Aeros finished their four-game home series with a 2-1 loss to the Trenton Thunder on Sunday, dropping the Aeros to 6-3 on the season.
Starting for the Aeros was left-hander Eric Berger, an eighth-round pick out of the University of Arizona in 2008. Berger spent last season in both Akron and Columbus, though his time with the Clippers was a bit rough as he posted a 10.05 ERA in just over 14 innings of work.
Thunder third baseman Runnier Mustelier sent a double deep to right-center off of Berger in the first inning with one out. However, Berger did not suffer any further damage as he battled to get right fielder Zolio Almonte to ground out and struck out designated hitter Cody Johnson to end the inning.
Taking the bump for Trenton was righty Craig Heyer. Heyer sailed through the first inning, allowing just one hit as left fielder Jared Goedert singled on a ground ball to center.
In the Trenton half of the third, second baseman Addison Maruszak laced a single over the shortstop, but Trenton shortstop Walter Ibarra popped up, left fielder Dan Brewer flew out to shallow right, and Berger fanned Mustelier to escape unscathed.
Berger’s biggest mistake occurred in the fourth as Trenton designated hitter Cody Johnson sent a blast over the right field wall to put Trenton on the board 1-0. Center fielder Melky Mesa kept things going as he legged out a double to left and Jose Gil laced a line drive into center to score Mesa, but Gil was thrown out trying to take second. With Trenton up 2-0, Berger regained his composure to strike out first baseman Luke Murton for the third out.
Left fielder Jared Goedert led off the home half of the fourth with a double deep off the center field wall and scored when third baseman Ryan Rohlinger singled to center. Rohlinger advanced to second on a bad throw from Mesa from center that sailed over Gil at the plate.
Right-hander Rob Bryson replaced Berger in the sixth inning, ending Berger’s day with a line of five innings, two runs, three hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Heyer pitched through the sixth inning, posting a line of seven innings, five hits, one run and seven strikeouts. He was replaced with righty Kelvin Perez.
Right-hander Matt Langwell entered the game in the eighth to replace Bryson after he tossed two scoreless innings, allowing two walks while fanning two. Langwell was greeted by shortstop Walter Ibarra with a single to right, but Ibarra was doubled-off as left fielder Dan Brewer lined out to short.
The Aeros fought to construct a rally in the bottom of the eighth when catcher Roberto Perez led off with a single up the middle. Center fielder Tim Fedroff reached on a groundball to second that hopped over the glove of Maruszak for an error, allowing Perez to move ahead to third. Shortstop Juan Diaz struck out looking for the first out and Goedert popped up to short before first baseman Chun Chen drew a walk. That ended the day for Perez as he was replaced with lefty Lee Hyde to face designated hitter Nick Weglarz. Weglarz would go on to pop up to the shortstop to douse the rally sparks.
Langwell tossed a scoreless top of the ninth and right-handed pitcher Ryan Flannery toed the rubber for Trenton in the bottom half of the inning. Rohlinger led off with a single up the middle and right fielder Ben Copeland popped a bunt up for the first out. Second baseman Davis Stoneburner flew out to right for the second out and Perez struck out looking to end the game.
Aeros manager Chris Tremie noted that the team played well, but just couldn’t capitalize on opportunities. “We had a couple opportunities today with runners in scoring position, runners on third,” Tremie said. “We’ve done a pretty good job of doing that, today was just one of those days we couldn’t get it done.”
Tremie also said he was pleased with Eric Berger’s outing. “He threw the ball well. He gave up a solo home run and another run, but he was solid throughout his outing and commanded his fastball pretty good. He had a very strong start.”
When asked if he took a different approach to his game plan today, Berger said nothing changed from his last start.
“I really don’t think so,” Berger said. “Just a little bad luck last time and I kind of hit a wall around the fourth inning, pitch count gets up. I was just trying to fight through it and not let them get any more than two today.”
Berger also accredited his defense, which played well on Sunday.
“We’ve been playing well everyday and we’re going to put up a lot of runs,” Berger said. “We’re a good team, obviously, you can tell by the record.”
Next, the Aeros host the Bowie Baysox for a three-game home series. Toru Murata is scheduled to make his first start of the season on Monday for the Aeros.
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.