AKRON -- After tying the game in the eighth inning on a run-scoring single by right fielder Thomas Neal, the Akron Aeros (48-32) eventually fell to the Erie SeaWolves, 5-4, in 10 innings.
With the loss, the Aeros lost three of four games in the series against the SeaWolves. Erie has dominated the season-series, winning nine of 14 games.
Following a loss by the Harrisburg Senators and a win by the Bowie Baysox, the Aeros now have a 7.5 game lead over both teams in the Eastern League Western Division.
After Bryan Price (2-2, 2.86) put runners on first and second with one out in the 10th, Rob Bryson allowed an RBI-single to push across the deciding run. Price had retired the side in order during his first two innings of work, but seemed to run out of gas in the 10th.
“Price with two and two-thirds innings, he really threw the ball well,” said Akron Aeros manager Chris Tremie. “He had been very efficient through two innings -- he hadn’t thrown a lot of pitches and was throwing the ball well. I decided to send him back out there for a third and he threw the ball well in that inning, but he was starting to get up in the zone.”
Before allowing the run in the 10th, the Akron bullpen had shut down the SeaWolves lineup. Tyler Sturdevant worked out of a bases loaded jam and threw one and two-thirds innings of perfect relief.
“It was an outstanding job by Sturdevant, coming in with the bases loaded and getting out of that inning without allowing any runs,” said Tremie.
Bryce Stowell also pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the Aeros.
Aeros starter Paolo Espino struggled to keep runners off base in his four and one-third innings of work. He allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three. His outing was the first time in seven start that he failed to throw 5+ innings.
Akron hitters struggled through the first half of the game, failing to get a hit until the fifth inning. After a leadoff single by Neal, designated hitter Adam Abraham walked to put a runner in scoring position with no outs. Third baseman Kyle Bellows followed with a two-RBI double to center. Bellows later scored on a sacrifice fly to make the score 4-3.
The Aeros tied the game in the eighth after Neal hit a line drive single to center that scored shortstop Juan Diaz from second. Following a strikeout, Bellows hit a hard single to right field and first baseman Chun Chen was thrown out trying to score from third. Erie right fielder Michael Rockett had entered the game as a defensive replacement earlier in the inning, but Tremie felt he had to test the strong-armed outfielder.
“The kid in right field has an outstanding arm -- we know that he’s made throws against us,” said Tremie. “With two outs, I’m going to be very aggressive in that situation. You give them credit, he made a great throw.”
Akron threatened again in the bottom of the ninth, drawing a pair of walks, but SeaWolves lefty Kenny Faulk (1-0, 4.05) retired Chen and Diaz to end the rally.
After losing the series against Erie, the Akron Aeros will start another four-game home series against the Richmond Flying Squirrels on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Chris Heston (6-3, 1.68) will go for Richmond against Akron lefty T.J. House (5-2, 3.71).
Notes: The game start was delayed until 8:15 p.m. because of rain. … Nick Weglarz has now struck out six times in his last three games. … After a 3-for-4 showing, Thomas Neal raised his average from .300 to .309. … Announced attendance: 7,011.
Nathan Kemp graduated from The University of Akron in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. He plans to pursue a graduate degree through NEOMFA in the fall. Follow him on Twitter @NathanCKemp.