Akron, OH -- Trenton leadoff hitter Adonis Garcia singled home the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning Sunday, leading the Thunder to a 3-2 win over the Akron Aeros at Canal Park.
The Thunder (76-58) took the series from the Aeros (77-56) and ended the team’s final regular season home game on a sour note. Despite the loss, the Aeros finished the home portion of the regular season with a league best 46-26 home record. After clinching a playoff spot on Saturday, Akron’s magic number for clinching the Western Division title remains at five. Second-place Bowie was rained out Sunday.
Trenton rallied against Aeros reliever Rob Bryson (5-5, 2.70) in the final inning. Bryson opened the ninth with a walk to Jose Gil and then committed a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt by Shane Brown. With runners on second and third following the error, Garcia drove home Gil with a single to left field to make it 3-2.
Ryan Pope worked around a two-out single in the ninth to post his second save of the series. Mark Montgomery (3-1, 2.14) picked up the win after throwing two innings of scoreless relief.
Aeros righty Toru Murata failed to earn a win after posting another strong start. He worked five shutout innings allowing just two hits and two walks. He struck out six.
After five more scoreless innings, Murata lowered his season ERA to 2.87. After appearing out the bullpen for the majority of the season, he has posted a 1.46 ERA (24.2 IP/4 ER), in five starts.
“He’s a starter right now,” said Akron Aeros manager Chris Tremie, following the game. “At the end of the season, the organization will decide [what he will be in the future].”
Murata was followed by Trey Haley who threw one scoreless inning while striking out two Trenton hitters. Bryce Stowell struggled through the seventh inning, allowing two solo homers to tie the game. Stowell has now allowed three long balls in his last four appearances and his season ERA has ballooned to 4.15.
Akron scored two runs off of Trenton starter Brett Marshall. First baseman Jesus Aguilar squeezed a RBI-double down the third base line in the third inning. In the sixth, third baseman Adam Abraham hit a solo homer to right, his 13th of the season.
Abraham made his second start since returning from the disabled list and has yet to play in back-to-back games. Tremie feels like he will get back into the swing of things on the final road trip of the season.
“It’s nice that [Abraham]’s back now and it gives him about 10 days to get ready like all the rest of them for the playoffs,” said Tremie.
Tremie refused to reveal a rotation for the opening playoff series, instead choosing to focus on the final nine games of the regular season.
“We’re going to be on the road for probably 10 days,” said Tremie. “[We] just need to make sure they take care of themselves and make sure they get some rest.
“At the end of the marathon there is a sprint.”
The Aeros will play the final nine games of the regular season on the road. The team will begin a five-game series with a doubleheader at Altoona on Monday at 5:30 p.m. In game one, right-hander Danny Salazar (3-0, 2.45) will start for Akron against Altoona right-hander Gerritt Cole (3-5, 3.25). In game two, Mike Rayl (NR) will make his first Double-A start for the Aeros against an unannounced Altoona starter.
Notes: Chun Chen went 1-for-4, lowering his average to .320. He trails Altoona’s Brock Holt by .002. … Nick Weglarz went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. … Announced attendance: 4,345.
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.