Akron falls to Portland 3-1
Akron, OH -- Portland third baseman Marquez Smith had two runs batted in while four Sea Dogs pitchers combined to throw a four-hitter, as Portland defeated the Akron Aeros, 3-1, Tuesday.
Mike MacDonald, Jason Urquidez, Brock Huntzinger and Michael Olmsted kept the Aeros quiet in the series opener at Canal Park, allowing just four hits and one run. MacDonald went four innings as the starter, allowing the only Aeros run in the second.
Urquidez (2-2, 2.51) pitched the next three innings to pick up the win, giving up just two hits while striking out one. Huntzinger worked a scoreless eighth and Olmsted threw a perfect ninth for his first Double-A save. Olmstead had 16 saves for High-A Salem earlier in the season.
The Aeros (67-47) managed just one hit over the last five innings.
Aeros starter Giovanni Soto (6-9, 3.93) struggled with his control early after taking a line drive off his leg following the first pitch of the game. He gave up a pair of runs in the first inning. Smith had the one of his two hits in the first, an RBI single that scored Jackie Bradley. Soto later issued a bases-loaded walk to make the score 2-0.
Smith led off the third with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot, to make it 3-1. Soto walked a season-high five batters and left the game after struggling through four innings.
“He’s been real consistent of late, he’s been throwing a lot of strikes,” said Akron Aeros manager Chris Tremie. “Today was one of those days -- he just didn’t have a real good feel for his fastball and that happens over the course of a season.”
The Aeros bullpen continued to be a bright spot, as Trey Haley, Kyle Landis and Preston Guilmet combined for five innings of shutout relief. Haley made his Double-A debut with a pair of scoreless innings.
“Trey has good arm strength and a good breaking ball,” said Tremie. “Tonight he commanded the ball pretty well. We look forward as a team and as an organization to watch him continue to develop.”
After being drafted as a starter in the second round of the 2008 draft, Haley has pitched out of the bullpen exclusively since his promotion to High-A Kinston last season. Tremie said that the plan is for Haley to stick in the bullpen for now.
Akron’s four hits were delivered by two players; shortstop Juan Diaz stroked a pair of doubles and Tyler Holt collected a pair of singles. Diaz hit doubles to both sides of the field and continued to reach base at a high rate while limiting strikeouts.
“He’s working on staying on the ball,” said Tremie. “At times, hitters tend to pull off a little bit. He’s been working on staying on the ball better, driving it up the middle and hitting the other way. He’s had some success and some really good at-bats which has resulted in fewer strikeouts.”
Third baseman Ryan Rohlinger had a run-scoring groundout in the second that scored Diaz from third. Left fielder Thomas Neal, who entered the game as the Eastern League’s leading hitter, went 0-for-4.
Portland and Akron will play the second game of the series on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. Lefty Drake Britton (3-4, 4.24) will start for the Sea Dogs against Akron right-hander Paolo Espino (6-2, 3.13).
Notes: Chun Chen drew two walks to raise his on-base percentage to .411. … Tyler Holt has at least one hit in nine of his last 10 games. … Announced attendance: 3,305.
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.