Aeros win with Wright stuff, 4-3
ALTOONA -- The Akron Aeros won the first game of a four-game weekend series against Altoona on Friday night, riding another strong start from knuckleballer Steven Wright.
Wright (6-4, 1.99) pitched six and two-thirds innings while scattering four hits and three walks. He struck out seven Altoona hitters, matching his season high. He allowed a solo homer to left fielder Quincy Latimore in the third inning, the only scoring hit he allowed.
With a 4-1 lead, he departed in the seventh with two runners on, both of which would later score. Despite allowing three runs, Wright’s ERA still rests just below 2.00 for the season.
Wright continued to make a case for a mid-season promotion to the Columbus Clippers rotation with another deep outing. With the win, he broke a two-game losing streak and in his last five starts, he has thrown at least five innings. He has struck out 14 batters in his last two starts.
Both of Wright’s runners scored off Akron reliever Tyler Sturdevant, who was making his season debut for Akron after being called up from Class-A Carolina. Sturdevant allowed a RBI-single to right fielder Evan Chambers before throwing a wild pitch to score another run, making the score 4-3.
Sturdevant worked a scoreless eighth to maintain the lead.
Aeros closer Preston Guilmet pitched the ninth for Akron, but not without a bit of drama. With two outs in the inning, he allowed a double, placing the tying run in scoring position, but held on for his ninth save.
Akron (46-27) jumped ahead for good in the third inning against Altoona starter Brandon Cumpton (7-6, 3.43). First baseman Chun Chen hit a RBI-single, and red-hot left fielder Nick Weglarz followed with a two-run double to make it 3-0. Weglarz now has 32 RBIs to lead the team and has a .459 on-base percentage in his last 10 games.
Jeremie Tice, making his Double-A debut after also being called up from Carolina, hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth to make it 4-1. Tice’s RBI ended up serving as an insurance run after Altoona scored twice in the seventh.
The Aeros and Curve (33-38) will play the second game of the series on Saturday night at 6 p.m. Right-hander Brett Brach (2-2, 3.29) will start for Akron against Altoona right-hander Tim Alderson (3-3, 3.38).
Notes: Chun Chen has just one multi-hit game in his last 10, with just one extra-base hit (double). … Nick Weglarz has four extra-base hits and six walks in his last 8 games compared to just seven strikeouts. … Announced attendance: 5,210.
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.