Salazar dominates as Aeros avoid elimination
Akron, OH — Akron broke an eight-inning scoreless streak in the bottom of the sixth with help from two Bowie errors as the Aeros beat the Baysox, 4-3, in a rain-delayed game at Canal Park.
With the win, the Aeros (82-59, 1-2) avoided elimination in the Eastern League Division series. Bowie had won the first two games of the series in Maryland. Akron faces another must-win situation on Saturday. One more win by Bowie (78-64, 2-1) will send the Baysox to their first-ever Eastern League Finals appearance.
Bowie took an early 2-0 lead in the third inning after Zelous Wheeler hit a two-run home run off Aeros starter Danny Salazar, but failed to add on any more runs until the seventh.
Salazar pitched 5 1/3 innings of quality baseball, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks while recording eight strikeouts.
“It was big for us, he threw the ball really well,” said Akron Aeros manager Chris Tremie. “[He] left one pitch up, and the guy hit it pretty good. After that, he ran into a little bit of trouble for a short period of time but turned it around and really threw the ball well.”
Bryce Stowell (1-0, 5.40) got the win for the Aeros, throwing 1 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three baserunners. Preston Guilmet pitched the eighth and ninth to record a two-inning save. He retired both sides in order while striking out three.
After trailing 2-0 through the first five innings, Akron finally answered with a four-run sixth to take the lead. The rally was helped along by two Baysox errors and a heads-up baserunning play by center fielder Tyler Holt.
“It was exciting,” said Tremie. “I’m sure the fans enjoyed it. It was an unusual inning for sure, and we benefited from it.”
All four runs were charged to reliever Eddie Gamboa, but only one was earned. Gamboa pitched four innings of relief after a three inning start by Kevin Gausman, the fourth overall pick of the 2012 draft.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, second baseman Matt Lawson hit a soft liner to first that was caught. Designated hitter Chun Chen rushed back to second and was called safe on the throw. During the commotion, Holt tagged and scored the eventual winning run.
“I knew something was going to happen where I had to make a play at home,” said Holt. “Lawson was just trying to put the ball in play. I knew [the first baseman] had to go back on it and you’re going to score no matter what if it goes over his head. I went back to tag when I saw the attention was on Chen at second, then instincts took over.”
Chen went 0-for-3 with a walk as he continued to struggle. In his last 10 games, he is hitting just .184 with two extra-base hits.
“He has had a little bit of difficulty in the first couple games, but he’s a good hitter and he’s had a great year,” said Tremie. “He’ll bounce back tomorrow and have a great game for us. I’m looking for big things out of him.”
The Aeros and Baysox will continue the series on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Left-hander Jacob Petit (11-3, 3.86) will get the start for Bowie against Akron righty Toru Murata (3-1, 2.60).
Notes: Davis Stoneburner has four hits in his last two games and his hitting .667 in the playoffs. … The start of the game was delayed by one hour and 12 minutes. … Announced attendance: 2,293.
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.