Aguilar, Moncrief's late-inning heroics give Aeros 15-inning win
Akron wins 3-2 in their longest game of the season
AKRON, OH -- Down 2-1 in the ninth inning, first baseman Jesus Aguilar tied the game with an opposite field home run, just out of right fielder Steven Souza Jr.'s reach at the "It's A Whole New Ballgame" sign.
After the two teams went six more innings, it almost literally was.
The Akron Aeros (24-30) won 3-2 Thursday night in 15 innings, defeating the Harrisburg Senators (27-27) on a bases-loaded walk-off single by right fielder Carlos Moncrief. Manager Edwin Rodriguez was proud of his team for the extra inning win, but would have been happy win or lose.
"More than the win, I think that we are very pleased with the way the guys played," Rodriguez said. "They showed character [and] they showed intensity. It got to the point where whatever the outcome would be, I was pleased [with] the way they were playing."
Aguilar's home run gave the Aeros life and came against dominant Senators reliever Aaron Barrett. The right-hander came into the night with a 2.61 ERA, 26:7 SO:BB, and eight saves in his first 20.2 innings, though it did him no good Thursday. The homer was Barrett's first allowed since April 18, ending his streak of 14 straight homerless appearances.
"I think it was a very good pitch," Rodriguez said of Aguilar's home run. "And he took a great swing. The think that the pitcher was right, in a situation like that you want to pitch the hitter like that, middle in, so the pitch was right. But you have to tip your hat to Aguilar."
Both sides traded zeros in extra innings until the bottom of the 15th. Third baseman Nate Spears -- making his season debut -- blooped a single over second baseman Rick Hague's outstretched glove. Center fielder Tyler Holt followed with a bunt single in no-man's land on the first base side and Aguilar walked to load the bases.
Moncrief came through with a groundball single up the middle following a strikeout from designated hitter Adam Abraham to send the fans home happy.
Aeros starting pitcher Matt Packer (2-5, 3.25 ERA, 3.58 FIP) cruised through Thursday's game until Souza launched a ball to straightaway center field for a two-run home run in the seventh inning. After coming off the disabled list seven games ago, Souza has been unstoppable, going 12-for-29 with two home runs.
Packer, Cleveland's minor league pitcher of the week, still finished the night with a solid outing, going seven innings with seven hits, three walks, and the two-run home run to Souza. The left-hander struck out six batters -- giving him 16 in his last two starts -- though the Aeros needed help from the bullpen to win Thursday.
Akron's relievers turned in eight innings of scoreless relief, with right-handers Bryce Stowell, Enosil Tejeda, Rob Nixon, and Jose Flores keeping Harrisburg off the board from the eighth inning on. The quartet combined for two walks, two hits, and 13 strikeouts and Rodriguez was thrilled with all of his pitchers.
"Everyone pitched a hell of a game," Rodriguez said. "And then Roberto Perez behind the plate. He's outstanding. He did a great job."
The Aeros had no answer for Senators starting pitcher Blake Treinen (4-5, 4.38 ERA, 3.78 FIP). The right-hander made it through seven innings with seven hits, one walk, three strikeouts, and only one run. All of Akron's hits off of Treinen were singles as they could not square him up.
Akron did manage to score first, though, as three consecutive singles by shortstop Jose Ramirez, Spears, and Holt gave the Aeros a run in the third inning. Ramirez hit a solid line drive to right field, Spears followed with a grounder between the first and second baseman, and Holt knocked a grounder back up the middle to bring Ramirez home.
With Harrisburg threatening in the fifth, Aguilar showed some impressive reflexes. The Senators had runners on first and second when first baseman Justin Bloxom hit a line drive down the first base line that looked to be headed toward the corner in right. Aguilar snared the liner, though, falling down during the follow-through and getting Packer out of the inning unscathed.
The Aeros flashed more leather in the eighth when second baseman Ronny Rodriguez dove to stop a grounder on the outfield grass, robbing shortstop Jose Lozada of a hit and keeping the Senators' lead at 2-1.
After winning the series with Harrisburg 2-1, the Aeros will head to Reading for a weekend series with the Fightin Phils (20-31). Akron will send right-hander Toru Murata (1-3, 4.19 ERA, 3.46 FIP) to the mound while Reading will counter with left-hander and #1 prospect Jesse Biddle (3-4, 3.15 ERA, 2.98 FIP). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
Attendance: 3,258... Time of Game: 4:27... First pitch was at 7:09... Game time temperature: 83 degrees... The first 12 hits of the game were all singles... Rodriguez extended his hit streak to 10 games with an infield single in the 10th... Perez walked in the seventh inning to extend his on base streak to 18 games.
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.