Akron RubberDucks pile on 11 hits to beat Harrisburg, 4-2
In front of a sold-out crowd of 8,138 brightly-clad youngsters on “Education Day” at Canal Park, the Akron RubberDucks defeated the Harrisburg Senators for the third time in less than 24 hours on Wednesday by a final score of 4-2.
“It says a lot about the team,” RubberDucks manager David Wallace explained, regarding the ability of his team to win games despite recently difficult schedule. “It’s not ideal circumstances, but we figure out what we need to do to get ready to play and then we play hard.”
The RubberDucks have used offense as the main catalyst in the majority of their wins, but pitching was the story on Wednesday, as RubberDucks starter Gabriel Arias put together his best outing of the 2014 season.
“We’re ecstatic how he threw,” Wallace said. “He did a good job, used his defense behind him, pitched with confidence and energy and we’re really happy for him.”
After a first inning in which he allowed a run following three straight singles to start the game, Arias settled in and pitched seven innings of two-run, seven-hit baseball, earning his league-leading fifth win of the season.
Arias said he felt very comfortable coming into the start on Wednesday, but thought his performance was due to a plan to “pitch for contact” rather than to blow hitters away.
“First of all, I believe in the eight other players who are playing defense for me,” Arias said. “With my command and my location, they’re going to make contact, but not hard contact, so I’m going to keep them off balance.”
While it was a great outing for Arias, it was almost all for naught, as the starter emerged from the dugout for the eighth inning and allowed two quick base runners without recording an out. Reliever Tyler Sturdevant replaced Arias and emerged from a bases-loaded jam without a single scratch, maintaining the Akron lead heading into the final frame.
Sturdevant came back out for the ninth inning and blanked Harrisburg again, securing his two-inning save and the RubberDucks’ sweep of the Senators.
While the dominant effort on the mound controlled the day, offensively, the RubberDucks thrice used the solo home run to propel them to victory.
Tyler Naquin started the game with a leadoff solo shot for the RubberDucks in the first inning, catcher Alex Laviskyhit a bomb over the wall in left in the fourth inning and Ronny Rodriguez smacked his second home run in as many days over the wall in left in the eighth to give the RubberDucks some breathing room in the final inning.
Rodriguez, who had not a single home run coming into the past couple of days, credits his recent power to some work he’s done off the field.
“It’s my approach,” Rodriguez explained. “I just try to hit the ball and have a good swing and make good contact. We’re working on my swing and trying not to think too much about home runs. I’m just thinking about hitting the ball up the middle.”
In addition to the trio of solo homers on the day, a trio of RubberDucks extended their individual hitting streaks on Wednesday.
Second baseman Joe Wendle had a couple of base hits to extend his hit streak to 10 games, shortstop Francisco Lindor rocked a liner up the middle to give him an eight-game hit streak and catcher Tony Wolters had a single of his own to extend his hit streak to six in a row.
The series sweep of the Senators continued the recent trend of wins for the RubberDucks, who’ve been victorious in 16 of their last 18 matchups and in six of their seven games on this latest home stand.
Rodriguez said he believes that the RubberDucks winning ways are a product of a team that’s truly together.
“We play together,” Rodriguez said. “That’s one important thing about this team. If we win, we win together. If we lose, we lose together. We are always together no matter what.”
The RubberDucks are scheduled to hit the road to Altoona on Friday, looking to continue their winning ways against the Curve, before they head to Erie to take on the SeaWolves.