Aeros clinch Western Division title with 8-1 win
On Friday evening in Richmond, Virginia, the Akron Aeros finally achieved what has seemed inevitable since the early weeks of the 2012 season. They have won the Eastern League's Western Division title.
By defeating the Flying Squirrels, 8-1, on the strength of a three-hit, three-RBI night from Ryan Rohlinger, and six shutout innings from starting pitcher Toru Murata, the Aeros (80-59) secured the 8th division title in franchise history, and the seventh since moving to Canal Park in 1997.
The Aeros have occupied first place alone since April 27th. At one point they held a 10 ½ game lead, but as the regular season has reached its conclusion, they have held off a late charge by second-place (and red hot) Bowie, whom they will now play in the Division series beginning on Wednesday night in Maryland.
The Baysox, Baltimore's Double-A affiliate, defeated Erie, 9-2, Friday, but can now, at best, only achieve a tie with the Aeros. Akron owns the tiebreaker due to a 13-6 record against the Sox, so Akron wins the Division title and home field advantage in the division series. Games One and Two will be played at Bowie on Wednesday and Thursday evenings next week.
The Aeros will host Game Three of the best-of-five series on Friday, September 7th at 7:05 PM at Canal Park. Gates will open at 6:00 PM and fireworks will follow the game.
The Aeros will also host games four and five if necessary. Game Four would be played on Saturday evening, September 8th at 7:05, and Game Five would be played on Sunday, September 9th, also at 7:05.
On Friday, Murata (3-1) continued his stellar effort as a member of the Aeros rotation with six scoreless innings Friday. He did not walk a batter and struck out a personal-high eight batters. In his six starts since becoming a regular starter, Murata's ERA is 1.17.
Akron backed Murata with plenty of run support. Michel Hernandez laced a two-run double off Austin Fleet (2-3), as part of a three-run fourth inning. In the fifth, Rohlinger clubbed a three-run double to make it 6-0. Akron added single runs in the seventh and eighth to complete the rout.
Rohlinger finished the night 3-5 with a pair of doubles. Jesus Aguilar also had three hits and an RBI for the Aeros.