Packer Dominant As Aeros Top SeaWolves 4-2
Akron, OH -- Matt Packer pitched seven innings and one-third innings of two-run ball in his second Aeros start of the season as the Akron Aeros beat the Erie SeaWolves, 4-2.
The Aeros won for the eighth time this season against the SeaWolves as Erie lost its sixth game in a row. Akron now has a 9.5 game lead in the Eastern League Western Division.
Coming back from a strained rotator cuff, Packer (2-0, 1.35) pitched seven and one-third innings of two-run baseball to pick up his second win in two starts with Akron. He allowed eight hits and struck out three, surrendering solo runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
“It’s great for him, getting back to where he wants to be and to be able to come out and have his first two outings go like that is really nice,” said Akron Aeros manager Chris Tremie. “It’s the same thing he did last season. He has us in the game every time he pitches.”
After sporting a 129:33 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season with the Aeros, Packer has yet to walk a batter in 13.1 innings this season.
“It’s exactly what I want to do and hopefully I can keep it up,” said Packer. “The less people you put on for free, the less chance they have to score. That’s a big part of the way I pitch, not giving free bases and making people swing the bat.”
Packer was helped in the second inning by catcher Roberto Perez, who threw out his 32nd runner of the season, tops in the Eastern League. He has now thrown out 32 of 75 attempted base stealers, good for 43% caught stealing rate.
“He’s accurate and consistent and shuts the running game down,” said Tremie. “That’s very valuable to pitchers because it keeps the double play intact. He’s very beneficial to our club.”
Kyle Landis came on in relief of Packer with one out in the seventh and a runner on second base. After inducing a fly out, Landis gave up a RBI-single to Rawley Bishop before retiring the side.
The Aeros turned to closer Preston Guilmet in the ninth. Guilmet worked around a two-out single and recorded the third out thanks to a diving catch by right fielder Jordan Henry to end the game. After blowing a save in his previous outing, Guilmet recorded his 17th save of the season.
“He’s been very good this year,” said Tremie. “Tonight he did was he’s done just about every other time this season: close out the game for us.”
In the bottom of the fourth inning, left fielder Nick Weglarz drew a walk off Erie starter Jared Gayhart with two outs. Weglarz scored after shortstop Juan Diaz lined a triple into the right field corner, putting the Aeros ahead, 1-0.
The run was the only damage allowed by Gayhart in four innings of work. He allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out five Akron hitters.
The Aeros piled on three more runs in the fifth off of Gayhart’s replacement, Ryan Robowski. After walking the first two batters he faced, Robowski allowed a two-RBI double to first baseman Davis Stoneburner. After advancing to third on a ground out, Stoneburner scored on a single by second baseman Matt Lawson.
The Aeros will go for the sweep on Wednesday night as they look to win their ninth straight at Canal Park. Erie will throw right-hander James Avery (10-7, 4.05) while the Aeros will counter with lefty Giovanni Soto (6-7, 3.72).
Notes: Erie outhit Akron 10-to-4, but was outscored by two runs. … Two Aeros base runners were thrown out trying to steal second (Lawson, Neal). … Announced attendance: 2,451.
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.