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Naquin leads Ducks over Senators in series finale, 6-3

Tyler Naquin went 2-for-4 with two runs, a RBI and drew a walk in the win.

Naquin leads Ducks over Senators in series finale, 6-3
Carolina catcher Tony Wolters raised his batting average on the year to .274 after going 1-for-3 with a RBI in the Mudcats win. (Photo credit: Brittany Chay)
June 1, 2014
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 AKRON, OH —  Thanks to a great team effort at the plate and on the field, the RubberDucks took two out of three games against Harrisburg with a 6-3 victory Sunday afternoon.

Akron got to former teammate Paolo Espino (1-3, 5.61) early in the game. After he walked two batters, the RubberDucks’ offensive attack started with a RBI single from Bryan LaHairTony Wolters followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to give Akron a 2-0 lead after the first inning.

Tyler Naquin added on another run for the team the following inning hitting a single to score Alex Lavisky to extend the RubberDucks lead to 3-0.

The Senators responded and tacked on a run in the third thanks to a Cutter Dykstra RBI single off of Joe Colon (5-2, 2.37). Highly touted Nationals prospect Michael Taylor rocketed his 15th homer of the season on a solo blast to center field in the top of the sixth, cutting the Akron lead to 3-2.

Colon had a decent start, allowing two earned runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out four in his fifth win of the year.

Manager David Wallace said the right-hander wasn’t at his best but still gave him credit, “Joe battled. He wasn’t his best, but he battled through and gave us six good innings and let the pen finish it up.” Wallace continued his praise for Colon, “It’s the mentality of challenging guys early, his stuff is there, we encourage him to be aggressive early, make them swing early and get him deep into games.”

The RubberDucks responded right back with three runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning off of Harrisburg reliever Colin Bates. Lavisky doubled and Jordan Smith followed with a RBI double of his own to right field. Thanks to a wild pitch by Bates, Smith scored and Tyler Naquin advanced from first to third. Joe Wendle got in on the act the next at-bat and brought in Naquin on a RBI single, extending the RubberDucks lead to 6-2 heading into the seventh.

Senator relievers Rafael Martin and Neil Holland combined for two scoreless innings late in the game after Akron’s offensive onslaught.

After Akron reliever Bryan Price’s two scoreless innings of relief, Harrisburg got to Giovanni Soto and tacked one more run on in the top of the eighth. Soto gave up a double, single, walked one, and gave up one earned run in 1/3 of inning.

When I asked him about Giovanni Soto’s recent struggles, Wallace said he was confident that the reliever would get back to his old self, “It’s going to be more of a mental battle for him. He’s got to be patient for his stuff to come back because it was so sharp early, and to have that little setback, but it’s just a matter of time before he comes back.”

Tyler Sturdevant got the call with one-out and runners on second and third in the eighth. The trusty right-handed reliever got out of the inning with ease, forcing a pop out and striking out Jason Martinson to get his team out of the jam.

The following inning, Sturdevant was lights-out as usual, striking out the first two Senators and forcing another pop out to close the game, 1-2-3. He recorded his sixth save of the season.

“He’s throwing fastballs by them. It’s coming out of his hand real well” said Wallace.

He had a short answer for me when I asked him how nice it was to have two great late-game pitchers in Shawn Armstrong and Sturdevant, “It’s great.”

The RubberDucks (35-21) are off tomorrow before they travel to New Britain to take on the Rock Cats (25-29). Akron is expected to start RHP Will Roberts (4-6, 4.29). Game time is set for 6:35 PM on Tuesday.

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