Moncrief's blast takes Aeros past Baysox 2-1
Homer off Gausman keys Akron's return to .500
AKRON, OH -- What could right fielder Carlos Moncrief possibly do on Sunday to surpass his walk-off single Saturday night?
How about a mammoth go-ahead home run off of a consensus top-25 prospect?
"It was Carlos Moncrief weekend," according to manager Edwin Rodriguez.
The Akron Aeros defeated the Bowie Baysox 2-1 Sunday afternoon at Canal Park, winning the series and moving to .500 for the first time all year. Defense and pitching ruled for most of the day until Moncrief made it all his.
Moncrief took a seventh inning pitch from Bowie starting pitcher Kevin Gausman (1-4, 3.53 ERA, 2.84 FIP) right back up the middle, knocking it over the batter's eye in center field. Considering the batter's eye is 60-feet tall and where the ball went over the fence is approximately 370-380 feet from home plate, it is safe to say Moncrief absolutely crushed it.
"Watching Carlos from last year, that doesn't impress me," Rodriguez said half-jokingly. "There were about three or four home runs last year, pretty much the same... I said 'I expect that from you. You're supposed to do that.'
"It was very impressive, especially when he hit that against [Gausman]. He's one of the main prospects in the league."
Moncrief has not shown the power he is capable of so far in 2013 -- coming into the day with only a .076 ISO and three extra base hits -- but maybe this will be the kick-start his season needs. Rodriguez thinks Moncrief will settle in with time.
"He starts slow, offensively and defensively," Rodriguez said. "And then whenever he settles down, his abilities start taking control of the game.".
The home run also extended Moncrief's hitting streak to seven games, tying him for the team-high on the season.
The right fielder also showed off his abilities on the defensive side of the ball, as Bowie center fielder Xavier Avery learned the hard way. On second base with no one out in the first inning, Avery attempted to tag on a fly ball to right. Moncrief smoothly caught the ball and unloaded bullet to third base, throwing Avery out by two steps.
Defense was the theme of the day, as Bowie limited the Aeros to one run in the first inning despite the threat of much more. Following a double down the left field line by center fielder Tyler Holt and a bunt single by left fielder Bo Greenwell, designated hitter Chun-Hsiu Chen drove a shot to deep center field.
Bowie center fielder Kyle Hudson gave chase, leaping into the wall and catching Chen's drive. Hudson's play held the Aeros to only a sacrifice fly on the play and that sole run on the inning.
The center fielder fell to the ground after making the throw back to the infield, but ultimately stayed in the game. Then the next batter, first baseman Jesus Aguilar, was robbed by a diving stop by Bowie second baseman Zelous Wheeler.
Aeros starting pitcher Jordan Cooper (1-0, 1.13 ERA, 2.33 FIP) did not overpower the Bowie lineup, but he found a way to keep them in check. The right-hander allowed one run, five hits, and two walks through five innings. Cooper added five strikeouts but also allowed plenty of hard contact.
Bowie tied the score in the top of the second on a leadoff walk, double, and RBI groundout. The damage could have been worse, but in the defensive theme of the day, Cooper managed to glove a hard groundball hit bouncing at his face with runners at the corners and two outs to get the third out. Rodriguez noted that the game really was won thanks to Cooper in that second inning.
"They had men on second and third and no outs with the middle of their order coming up," Rodriguez said of the second inning. "And they came up with only one run. I think that was the game... He pitched himself out of a big inning."
Relievers Jose Flores, Bryan Price, and Austin Adams whitewashed the Baysox over the final four innings, combining for four shutout innings with one hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. Adams in particular sent currents of electricity through Canal Park en route to his first save of the year, striking out two and dialing his fastball up to 98 MPH in the ninth.
The Aeros will host Erie SeaWolves Monday night to open a three-game series. Game time is 7:05 as Akron right-hander Will Roberts (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3.37 FIP) will face Erie right-hander Victor Larez (4-0, 3.54 ERA, 3.59 FIP).
Attendance: 3,896... Time of Game: 2:15... First pitch was at 2:06... Game time temperature: 69 degrees...The Aeros are now 4-7 against the Baysox this season... Akron is now 1-8 when scoring three or fewer runs on the season... Cooper started the game after the original starter, Brett Brach, was scratched. Rodriguez said that Brach is on his way to Columbus... After seeing his hitting streak ended at six games last night, Holt got back at it Sunday going 2-for-4 with a double. His line on the season now sits at .280/.377/.398 with seven doubles... Shortstop Giovanny Urshela submitted his own web gem application with a diving grab of a Hudson line drive in the fifth... Urshela is only playing shortstop as an emergency as Jose Ramirez is out with a pulled hip flexor. He is day-to-day for now.
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