Aeros power by BaySox 11-5
Hunter, Moncrief's three-run home runs spur Akron past Bowie
AKRON- The Akron Aeros ended their five-game losing streak with a bang.
A colorful crowd of 8,000 students was on hand to take in the 10:35 start between the Aeros and the Baysox and the excitement started right away.
With the crowd stirring, Baysox leadoff man and third baseman Ty Kelly roped a ball to the gap in left-center field, only to be robbed on a magnificent diving catch by center fielder Tyler Holt that sent the students into a frenzy. Aeros starter Will Roberts then retired the next two batters with ease for a three-up, three-down inning.
In the bottom of the first, Holt, the MVP of the first inning, ripped a single into right-center to give the Aeros their first baserunner of the day. After left fielder Cedric Hunter flied to left for the second out of the inning, first baseman Jesus Aguilar drilled an opposite-field double to the corner in right field, scoring Holt and giving the Aeros a 1-0 lead.
Another shut out inning from Roberts brought the Aeros back up in the bottom of the second with a chance to add to their lead. And they did just that.
With two outs in the inning, third baseman Giovanny Urshela hit a single up the middle to give the Aeros a glimmer of hope. The next batter, catcher Jake Lowery, delivered by hitting a laser to right field over the head of right fielder Henry Urrutia and into the wall. Urshela hustled home and gave the Aeros a 2-0 lead. Shortstop Jose Ramirez continued the two-out rally with a single of his own that brought in Lowery, who slid safely on a close play at the plate. The Aeros led 3-0 when Ramirez was picked off by Baysox starter Jake Pettit to end the inning.
After dominating the first three innings, Roberts ran into trouble in the fourth. Shortstop Niuman Romero mashed the first hit of the day for the Baysox with a single to right-center field. Roberts then got catcher Caleb Joseph fly out, bringing up Urrutia. With two outs, Urrutia smacked a double that didn’t travel far enough to bring Romero home, giving the Baysox men on second and third with two outs. Fortunately for the Aeros, Roberts pitched himself out of the jam by getting first baseman Aaron Baker to fly out to deep center field, leaving the Baysox scoreless in the inning.
The momentum of Roberts’ great outing carried into the bottom of the fourth. Designated hitter Quincy Latimore started the inning with a strikeout. Right fielder Carlos Moncrief followed by smoking a double, giving the Aeros a duck on the pond. Shortstop Ronny Rodriguez followed suit with a double of his own that scored Moncrief and gave the Aeros a 4-0 lead.
Bending in the fourth, Roberts finally broke in the fifth. Designated hitter Brandon Waring started the inning off with a double off of the wall for the first extra-base hit of the day for Bowie, but it wasn’t the last. After center fielder Garabez Rosa grounded out to short, left fielder Steve Bumbry hit a ball that looked to be stranded in the cloudy sky. Instead, it ended up over the fence and in the Akron bullpen for a two-run home run, Bumbry’s first of the season. While the Baysox were climbing back, now down 4-2, Roberts held off the next two batters to get out of the inning.
Unfortunately, Roberts couldn’t hold off the rain and it fell steadily, starting at about 12:05 pm. While the students played joyfully in the aisles of the stadium, the Aeros and Baysox went inside for an hour.
When play was resumed, Ramirez drilled the first pitch deep into the gap in right-center for a stand up triple, his second hit of the game. Holt seemed to have the formula to bring him home, but Baysox reliever Matt Bischoff snagged his screaming liner for the inning’s first out. Hunter picked up the slack in the next at bat and drilled a ball of his own to the 400 foot sign in centerfield. Bouncing off the wall, Ramirez scored easily, but Hunter only made it to second base for a double. Third base was wide open to take, but it wouldn’t have mattered much, as the next two Aeros grounded out and flew out to end the inning. After five, the Aeros had a 5-2 lead.
Roberts made his way out for the sixth inning but, after getting two outs and allowing two singles, was replaced by Bryan Price who got the final out of the inning.
Overall, it was a great afternoon from Roberts. In 5.2 innings, Roberts allowed six hits, two runs, two earned runs, one walk, and struck out two en route to his third win of the season.
Price started the seventh well, getting Rosa to ground to short, but was quickly in a jam. After walking Bumbry and getting second baseman Cale Iorg to ground to short, Price threw a wild pitch that allowed Bumbry to get to third with two outs in the inning. Sure enough, Kelly made Price pay for his mistake by hitting a bouncing ground ball up the middle that was fielded by Rodriguez. Rodriguez had no play to make, allowing the run to score and Kelly to get to first base, making the score 5-3 going into the bottom of the inning.
The seventh inning started with a strikeout from Lowery, but the fireworks were just waiting to begin.
Bischoff walked Rodriguez to start the rally for the Aeros, giving them a speedy baserunner on first base. Holt followed with a bloop single to center that was seemingly caught by a diving Rosa, but the ball slowly trickled out of his glove and both runners were safe. Then came Hunter who poked a 1-1 Bischoff offering into the bullpen in right field for his second home run with the Aeros, making the game 8-3. While Hunter certainly blew the game open, the three-run homers weren’t done quite yet.
After Bischoff, who surprisingly stayed in the game, walked Aguilar and Latimore to put two men on again, Moncrief absolutely unloaded on a pitch deep to right-center field for the second three-run homer of the inning. With the Aeros up 11-3, Bischoff was finally pulled and reliever Clay Schrader secured the final two outs of the inning.
In speaking with Moncrief after the game, his approach was simply to throw his hands.
“I was trying to hit a home run on the first couple at bats, so I tried to just throw my hands and there it went," said Moncrief. “After that I was really relaxed, so I want to go into the next series just throwing my hands and being relaxed.”
Austin Adams came in to pitch the top of the eighth for the Aeros and struggled immediately. After allowing a solo home run on a full count to Joseph that cut the Akron lead to 11-4, Adams walked Urrutia with no outs in the inning. He then got the next two batters but, with two outs in the inning, the trouble wasn’t done. Rosa blooped a ball to the right field line that Moncrief had a chance to grab. Moncrief, on his horse, dove for the ball but was unable to grab it. The ball rolled to the wall, scoring Urrutia and giving Rosa a stand-up triple. With a man on third, Adams got Bumbry to fly out to center to end the Baysox rally.
The Aeros went three-up, three-down in the bottom of the eighth, and Adams was on for the ninth to secure the 11-5 win for Akron. Adams struck out Iorg and got Kelly to ground out but, after a double from Romero, Adams was pulled before being allowed to get the game's final out. Reliever Jose Flores replaced Adams and got the final out for the Aeros, ending their five-game losing streak.
Although the Aeros won, manager Edwin Rodriguez wasn’t so pleased.
“We won today, but I think we made a lot of mistakes," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes we lose and we play the game right, but at this point we just want to play the game right. All the little things. Today we made about five mistakes on the basepaths and I wasn’t too happy about it."
Akron moves to 21-26 while the Baysox fall back to .500 at 22-22 on the year.
The Aeros will drive to Erie, Pennsylvania to take on the Erie SeaWolves for another four-game series starting tomorrow night. First pitch is set for 7:05 from Jerry Uht Park.