Rodriguez homer helps lift Aeros to 7-5 win
Reading, PA — As the season moves into the hot summer months, the only thing heating up faster than the temperature is Ronny Rodriguez’ bat.
The Akron second baseman was 2-3, with a three-run home run Friday night as the Aeros outlasted the Reading Fightin’ Phils, 7-5, in the opening game of a three-game series at First Energy Stadium.
It was the third straight win for the Aeros (25-30), and their fourth in five tries against Reading, all on the road. Since first-place Erie lost at Richmond, the Aeros pulled to within seven games of first place in the EL West.
Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to 11 consecutive games with a single in the third inning. He walked and scored in the seventh, coming home on a Tyler Holt bunt single to give the Aeros a 3-2 lead. He then slugged a three-run shot to left during a four-run seventh that widened the margin to 7-2.
It was Rodriguez’ fourth homer of the season, and his 24th RBI. He belted 19 home runs last year at Class-A. During his 11-game hitting streak, he is hitting .378 (17-45).
Turns out the Aeros need almost all those runs as the Fightin’ Phils employed the long ball effectively as well. Four solo shots kept the Phils within striking distance. They hit two off starter Toru Murata, one off righthander Jordan Cooper, and one in the ninth off closer Bryce Stowell.
Murata (2-3) gave up just four hits and two runs over six innings. He served up home runs to Tyson Gillies andAlbert Cartwright, and left with a 2-2 tie after six, but Holt’s RBI bunt single in the seventh off Jesse Biddle (3-5) put Murata back in line for the win. It was Murata’s first win since his first start of the season on April 8th.
The Phils scored a pair of runs off Cooper, including another homer by Gillies, to pull to within 7-4, and Derek Mitchell led off the ninth with a homer off Stowell to tighten the score to 7-5. Stowell buckled down, though, and recorded three strikeouts to end the game and notch his fourth save.
Holt had three RBI for the Aeros. He had an RBI groundout in the third, and a run-scoring single in the fifth off Biddle, the Phillies top minor league prospect.
The Aeros and Phillies will play the middle game of the series on Saturday night at 6:35. RHP Brett Brach (1-2, 4.91) will get the ball for Akron, while RHP Hector Neris (3-1, 4.14) is the scheduled starter for Reading.