Altoona uses six-run fourth to beat Aeros
ALTOONA - The Akron Aeros failed to receive a quality start for the first time in the 2012 season, as the Altoona Curve used strong hitting and pitching to win 6-1.
Akron left-hander Eric Berger, who worked mostly out of the bullpen in 2011, was dominant early as he struck out the first five hitters he faced. Berger faced just one batter over the minimum before Altoona scored six runs in the fourth inning, their total for the game.
After retiring the first batter in the fourth inning, Jarek Cunningham drew a one-out walk off Berger and Tony Sanchez followed with a single to left field. With Sanchez at first and Cunningham at third, Andrew Lambo singled in the game’s first run. After a single to load the bases, Matt Curry followed with a two RBI base hit.
After a fly out for the second out, Elevyz Gonzalez, making his first start in AA, capped the scoring rally with a three-run homerun that opened the Altoona lead to six runs.
Berger was done after the fourth inning, having given up six runs on six hits and one walk. He struggled to miss bats after retiring the first five batters by way of the strikeout.
The Aeros bullpen continued to dominate as Kyle Landis and Rob Bryson pitched two effective innings each to finish the game. Landis allowed just one hit over two innings, striking out one. Bryson allowed one hit and one walk, but struck out five batters in two innings.
Through the first five games of the season, the Aeros bullpen has allowed just one run, seven hits, and eight walks. Relievers have struck out 27 over 21.1 innings of work.
The Akron lineup failed to score an earned run against Altoona. After a Tim Fedroff walk to open the top of the fifth inning, Jared Goedert doubled on a ball hit to left fielder Quincy Latimore. Fedroff was able to score Akron’s only run of the game from first due to a Latimore fielding error.
Fedroff had another strong game in the leadoff spot, going 1-1 with three walks. Shortstop Juan Diaz, the only Aero who had a hit through the first four games, went hitless.
Akron and Altoona will play the rubber match of the three-game series tomorrow night beginning at 6:30 p.m. Right-hander Toru Murata will make a spot start for Akron against the Curve’s Mike Colla.
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.