McFarland sinks the Senators, 7-0
AKRON - The Akron Aeros (22-9) opened the bottom half of the first inning with four runs and T.J. McFarland pitched seven shutout innings as the Aeros beat the Harrisburg Senators 7-0.
After McFarland worked around two consecutive singles in the first inning, the Aeros hit four straight singles off Harrisburg starter Jeff Mandel. First baseman Chun Chen hit the fourth single, which was misplayed by Senators right fielder Destin Hood. Two runners scored on the error and Chen advanced to third. Chen scored on a ground out by left fielder Nick Weglarz to make the score 4-0.
“They had a good approach in the first inning, came out with four straight hits,” said Akron Aeros manager Chris Tremie. “Anytime you score four runs in the first inning you’ve got to feel pretty good about it.”
The Aeros added a fifth run in the bottom of the second when shortstop Juan Diaz hit a long home run off the batter’s-eye wall in center field. For the game, Diaz was 3-4 with two singles, a home run and two runs batted in.
“He’s been working hard on his setup and getting ready,” said Tremie. “He was in a good position to strike the ball tonight and he put some really good swings on several pitches.”
Akron added another run in the bottom of the third. With Chen on third following a double and a wild pitch, Weglarz grounded out to bring home Akron’s sixth run.
Mandel (3-2, 3.89) was done after three innings for the Senators, allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits while striking out two.
The Aeros scored their seventh, and final run of the game in the fourth off Harrisburg reliever Ryan Tatusko. After a one-out single by catcher Roberto Perez, center fielder Tim Fedroff walked to put runners at first and second. Perez scored on Diaz’s second single of the game before Tatusko retired the next two hitters.
Tatusko hurled three innings of effective relief. In three innings, he allowed one earned run, while scattering four walks and two hits.
McFarland (6-1, 2.18) limited base runners in his seven innings of work. Runners advanced past first just three times against McFarland and failed to hit a ball out of the infield until the seventh inning.
“T.J. threw the ball very well tonight,” said Tremie. “He looked really comfortable and poised on the mound.”
McFarland allowed just five hits with no walks while striking out four. With the win, he now leads the Eastern League in wins.
“I was aggressive to the hitters and getting outs early in the count and that’s what took me to the seventh inning,” said McFarland. “I had good control of everything -- my sinker was really good tonight and that’s why I had so many ground balls.”
Bryan Price relieved McFarland in the eighth and pitched the final two innings. He allowed two hits, one walk, and hit one batter while striking out one.
With the win, Akron expanded its lead to six games in the Eastern League Western Division. The Aeros continue their series against the Harrisburg Senators tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. Knuckleballer Steven Wright (3-1, 1.13) will go for his fourth win of the season against left-hander Danny Rosenbaum (4-0, 0.81). Following the game, there will be a fireworks show set to the music of the 1985 science-fiction adventure classic “Back to the Future.”
Notes: The Aeros turned three double plays against Harrisburg. ... Nick Weglarz has six RBIs in his past two games. ... Both Tim Fedroff and Jared Goedert walked and are tied for second in the Eastern League with 19 walks. ... Announced attendance: 2,958.
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.