Soto is strong, but Aeros fall 1-0
Portland, ME -- Three Portland pitchers combined to throw a seven-hit shutout Tuesday, as the Sea Dogs squeezed by the Akron Aeros, 1-0, in the opener of a three-game series at Hadlock Field.
The game’s deciding run for Portland came in the sixth off Aeros southpaw Giovanni Soto. Newly-promoted second baseman Justin Toole committed a throwing error while trying to turn a double play, allowing Portland’s Jeremy Hazelbaker, who had singled earlier in the inning, to score from second.
Soto (6-8, 3.84) pitched seven strong innings in vain, allowing just the one unearned run on four hits. He did not walk a batter, a very rare occurrence for Soto, and struck out five in his best outing since his no-hitter against Altoona on July 15th.
Shawn Armstrong worked the last inning for Akron, allowing just one hit.
Portland starter Jason Urquidez worked the first five innings, allowing six hits but no runs while lowering his season ERA to 2.76. He scattered base runners throughout the night, as the Aeros reached in all five innings he pitched.
Chris Balcom-Miller (4-5, 4.32) took over after Urquidez and worked two scoreless innings, giving up just one hit. Brock Huntzinger pitched two more scoreless frames, retiring six in a row to earn his fifth save of the season.
It was only the third time in 109 games this season that the Aeros have been shut out.
Left fielder Thomas Neal and third baseman Ryan Rohlinger had two hits each for the Aeros (65-44), but the team could not push a run across. Akron went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Despite the loss, the Aeros remain 9.5 games ahead of second-place Bowie.
On Wednesday, the Aeros and Sea Dogs will play the second game of the series. Right-hander Paolo Espino (5-2, 3.14) will go for Akron against Portland righty Mike MacDonald (1-1, 4.24).
Notes: Nick Weglarz went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. … Announced attendance: 5,256.
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.