Akron wins game one before rains washes away doubleheader
AKRON – The Akron Aeros defeated the Altoona Curve in the first of a seven-inning game on Friday night. Originally scheduled to be part of a double-header, the rain impeded the second game from even starting.
Aeros’ All-Star Matt Packer (6-5, 2.56) took the bump to counter Altoona righty David Bromberg (3-8, 3.29). Packer received the win during his last outing as he tossed 6.2 innings and allowed one run against the New Britain Rock Cats.
Packer fell into a bases-loaded jam in the first inning but pitched the Aeros out of any irreparable damage. Left fielder Drew Maggi led off the game with a walk and advanced to third on a single by third baseman Aldaberto Santos. Centerfielder Gregory Polanco followed with a single to right to plate Maggi, giving the Curve the 1-0 lead. After hitting the next batter, Packer settled in to record a strikeout for the first out and induced a double-play to end the inning.
The Aeros evened the score in their half of the second inning as right fielder Carlos Moncrief and designated hitter Adam Abraham laced a pair of back-to-back singles and catcherJake Lowery reached on a fielding error to load the bases. With two out, shortstop Jose Ramirez drew a walk to force home Moncrief, tying the score at 1-1.
Both starters tossed zeroes across the board until the fifth inning, where Moncrief struck again. With two out, centerfielder Cedric Hunter doubled to right and first baseman Jesus Aguilar was plunked by a pitch. Cue Moncrief, who doubled to right to empty the bags. Abraham followed with a single up the middle to center to score Moncrief and give the Aeros the 4-1 lead.
That was all Packer needed as he pitched one more scoreless inning, ending his evening at six innings pitched, yielding one run on four hits, three walks and four strikeouts.
Packer gave way to closer Jose Flores in the seventh. Flores offered Altoona a chance as a surrendered a pair of consecutive singles and a walk to load the bases, but a final popout to the shortstop ended the game to seal the 4-1 win for the Aeros.
Aeros’ manager Edwin Rodriguez noted Packer’s solid performance, particularly in the first inning. “I think that the first inning, he had problems locating his fastball. That’s why he got into trouble, but then he found a way. I think that first inning was the game. That was the game-changing moment.”
Rodriguez also mentioned Moncrief’s performance, which has taken off as of late. “The last three or four weeks of the season, he’s been incredible offensively and defensively.”
According to Rodriguez, Moncrief’s approach at the plate handling the outside half of the plate has been the difference-maker.“I think that he’s handling the middle-away pitch better. He’s showing to pitchers that he can handle that pitch. Now, he’s making them come inside which is his power zone.”
Friday’s win advances the Aeros to a 38-41 overall record. Next, they’ll attempt to make up the postponed game in the form of another scheduled double-header on Saturday. Brett Brach (4-4, 4.89) is scheduled to pitch the first game and Cole Cook (1-0, 7.05) is expected to start the second.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.