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RubberDucks cruise by Captains, 11-1

RubberDucks cruise by Captains, 11-1
Photo courtesy of Brittany Chay
April 1, 2014
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EASTLAKE, OH - Baseball returned to Northeast Ohio Monday evening in fine fashion as it was big brother putting the hurt on little brother at Classic Park in Eastlake as the debut of the Akron RubberDucks handled the Lake County Captains 11-1 in exhibition play.

An explosive eight-run sixth inning, almost exclusively with two outs, pushed the freshly-fitted RubberDucks to a win over their Class-A teammates in the final tuneup before Thursday's season opener.

"We were talking amongst the staff, and you know if we don't play this game, we're doing simulated games on our own," new Akron manager David Wallace said. "We'd much rather do this. It's a better atmosphere, guys are into it more and you get a little taste of what the season is going to be like when you start."

Wallace, a former Akron Aero, is sliding down the bench this year as the RubberDucks' first manager. Being a former player, Wallace said that it was a bit strange not being the Aeros anymore, but that when his team saw the new uniforms all was much better.

"Once we showed up yesterday, saw our uniforms, get to wear our uniforms, get to know the logo better, I think it's going to grow on a lot of people that might not be particularly excited about the name change," Wallace said. "I know the players, they love the uniform, they like the logo and are excited about the colors and the whole thing."

Trotting out in the new digs was starter Kyle Davies, who has spent time in the majors with the Braves, and he put on a heck of a performance for his new club after signing with the Indians late in free agency. Davies tossed five strong innings and allowed one run, a home run to Eric Haase, and had seven strikeouts.

Davies was assisted by a bounty of players putting up big numbers on offense. After falling behind 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Akron's Ronny Rodriguez and Giovanny Urshela answered back with back-to-back home runs in the second to give the RubberDucks a lead they wouldn't look back from.

After a roller coaster ride of a 2013 season in Akron, Urshela had a big night to spark the fan base for big things in 2014 out of the third baseman. Urshela finished a triple shy of the cycle in the warmup game and collected three RBIs.

His partner in crime was Rodriguez, who also put on a show for the fans who were rooting for both teams.

Rodriguez had a quality 1-3 night with the home run and a sacrifice fly. Looking back on their games, Wallace said he is looking forward to seeing the youngsters mature into players the system can look to in the future.

"They both came into camp very strong, you could tell they did a lot of hard work in the off season," Wallace said. "Both looked great swinging the bat, especially Urshela. He seems to be putting things together and we're going to look for him to play a leadership role on the field and off."

Cleveland's top prospect Francisco Lindor made an impact on the game as he finished his day 1-4 with a double and two runs, but was struck out twice.

"He took a couple weird swings tonight, said he was having trouble picking up the ball," Wallace said. "His work ethic, his maturity, his focus is where it needs to be and so we know if he does those things consistently, he's going to do things that we're accustom to seeing him doing."

Tyler Naquin, the Indians' 2012 first round pick, was in town but did not play in the scrimmage after being hit by a pitch in the foot against the Colorado Rockies late in spring. Wallace said Naquin is expected to ready to go opening day in Binghamton.

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