Captains Lose Second Round Opener While Aeros Force Game Five
Akron Wins Battle of Sacrifices to Force Decisive Game Five; Aeros 2, Baysox 1.
By Ron Tellalian
Game four between the Akron Aeros and the Bowie Baysox turned out to be a clinic in small ball tactics. That strategy did not prove productive however, as only three runs scored while 18 men were left on base between the two clubs. When the dust settled, the Aeros came out on top, and tied the series up at two apiece with a nail biting 2-1 victory.
Taking the hill for the home team Akron Aeros was 27-year old, Japanese born, Toru Murata (3-1, 2.60). Murata’s last start came against Richmond on August 31 where he got the win throwing six shutout innings. He would look to duplicate that performance against Baysox LHP Jake Petit (11-3, 3.86). Despite dropping to the 42nd round before finally being drafted by the Orioles, Petit has shown success at every minor league level, boasting a 3.41 ERA in three professional seasons.
Both pitchers started off well, but Petit really shined as he dazzled Aeros hitters the first time through the order. Perfect through three innings, Akron finally got through in the fourth. Right fielder Jordan Henry led off the inning with a bunt down the third base line. It would prove to be the trend of the day, as it was the first of eight bunts by these two warring teams. Henry bolted to first trying to beat the play out. Petit fielded the ball, whirled, and fired to first. The throw was ill advised as the hustling Henry crossed the base well before the throw sailed wide of Baysox bagman Rhyne Hughes. The Aeros quick right fielder scurried to second on the throwing error, and Akron had a man in scoring position with no outs.
Tyler Holt followed Henry’s bunt with one of his own, moving Henry to third. Cleveland Indians rehabbing third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall stepped up next, and proved why he’s been up with the parent club. Chisenhall lined the 1-2 offering from Petit into right field for an RBI single; after four innings of play Akron 1, Bowie 0.
Not to be out done by the Aeros’ Henry, Baysox leadoff hitter Antwan Richardson started off the sixth with a bunt single of his own. The fleet footed Richardson bolted down the line, and crossed the bag without a throw. Second baseman Buck Britton’s sacrifice bunt–already the fifth bunt of the day–moved Richardson into scoring position for the hot-hitting, Ty Kelly. With two excellent running catches already, robbing Chun Chen of doubles, Kelly proved he could get it done with his bat as well. He crushed a Murata fastball for a two bagger, scoring Richardson, and tying the game at one apiece. The smash represents Kelly’s fifth hit and fifth RBI in the series. The Baysox three hole hitter boasts a .417 batting average through the first four games of the this Western Division battle.
Petit convincingly sat down the Akron hitters in the bottom half of the 6th, striking out the side on 10 pitches. Chisenhall, Jesus Aguilar, and Matt Lawson went down swinging, and the game was still tiEd Heading into the 7th.
Relieving Toru Murata was Akron Aeros very own version of Nuke LaLoosh. Trey Haley has a rocket arm, dialing the radar gun up to 98 mph, but the fire baller doesn’t always know where his missiles are headed once released. The command wasn’t perfect as three of Bowie’s hitters worked full counts, but the Baysox couldn’t handle the heat, and Haley left no hope for a comeback on his watch, as he shut the door with three punch outs.
Petit was not as effective in his next inning. Roberto Perez walked on four pitches to put the go ahead run on with no one out. Ryan Rohlinger laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Petit again committed an error, and all runners were safe. If it works once, why not try it again? With runners on first and second, and still no outs, Aeros left fielder Adam Abraham took his turn with the bunts and dropped a nice one down the third base line. Robert Hinton, who came in to relieve Petit, fielded his position well, and threw Abraham out at first. The runners moved up, and Akron found themselves with runners on second and third, and merely one out.
Roberto Perez stepped up to the dish, and showed good patience, taking two borderline pitches from Hinton. Ronnie Rodriguez, who came in to pinch run for Chen, stood at third, and Rohlinger danced off second as they awaited the 1-1 pitch. With all fielders now playing in to cut off the run, Perez needed only to hit a medium deep fly ball to push across a run. He came through with a sacrifice fly to right field to give the defenders of Canal Park the 2-1 lead.
It was a lead Akron would not relinquish. Aeros manager Chris Tremie turned the ball over to former Arizona Wildcat Preston Guilmet, who came on to attempt his second save in as many nights. Bowie did not go down quietly however, former Cleveland Indian Josh Barfield stood in the way of an easy victory. With two hits already on the night, the second baseman ripped a single for his third hit on the day. Catcher Brian Ward moved Barfield to second with the eight bunt of the night, but Guilmet slammed the door from there, retiring the final two batters on five pitches to preserve the Aeros win.
After a hard fought battle, the Akron Aeros tie the series up at two games each. Tim Bascum (6-6, 4.41) will man the bump for the Baysox, and Carlos Carrasco, making his second rehab appearance, gets the start for Akron. 7:05 is the first pitch Sunday night as the Aeros look to continue the fight, and claim victory in the fifth and deciding game in this Eastern League Western Division series.
Tincaps Use Doubles to Force Captains Near Elimination; Tincaps 4, Captains 3
By Mike Brandyberry
The Fort Wayne Tincaps used an early big inning to take control of the game and a run late to set down the Lake County Captains in the first game of the Midwest League Division Championship, 4-3. The Captains are now forced to win two in a row in the best-of-three series.
The Captains struck early, appearing to have the offense clicking like it did much of the final month of the regular season and first playoff series, when Jose Ramirez led off the game with a home run to give Lake County a 1-0 lead. Frank Garces seemed shaken, but quickly settled down and pitched a quality game for the Tincaps.
Shawn Morimando pitched well enough to win most games, allowing only three hits over five innings, but the damage was done against him in the bottom of the first inning. After Morimando retired the leadoff hitter, Jace Peterson doubled to left field for the Tincaps, followed by a double from Yeison Ascensio to score Peterson and replace him at second base. After Jeremy Baltz walked, Morimando was able to get Austin Hedges to pop out to Jerrud Sabourin for the second out and a chance to minimize the damage.
However, Duanel Jones doubled home Ascensio and Baltz and gave the Tincaps an early 3-1 lead. Morimando settled down, like Garces, but the double by Jones would be enough to keep Fort Wayne in control of the game most of the night.
Lake County scratched a run closer in the fifth inning when Joseph Wendle led off with a walk. After Alex Lavisky struck out, Todd Hankins singled to put runners on first and second with one out. Garces got Ramirez to pop out, but Francisco Lindor singled up the middle to score Wendle and cut the deficit to 3-2.
Morimando was done after five innings on the mound, allowing only the three doubles and three runs in the first inning, while walking three and striking out two. He was relieved by Daniel Jimenez. An inning later the Tincaps starter was finished as well. Garces pitched six innings, allowing four hits, two runs while walking two and striking out six.
Lake County looked to have shifted momentum in the eighth inning when Lindor hit a solo home run to right field off Fort Wayne’s Johnny Barbato to tie the game at three. However, the Tincaps answered right back in the bottom of the inning, plating their first run since the first. Travis Jankowski doubled to lead off the inning and was bunted to third before Asencio singled to center field off Jimenez to give the Tincaps the lead and winning run, 4-3.
The Captains return home Sunday night in a must win game. Lake County needs to win Sunday in the best-of-three to force a decisive third game. Elvis Araujo (7-10, 5.00 ERA) will carry the Captains’ season on his shoulders Sunday against Fort Wayne’s Erik Cabrera (2-2, 3.33 ERA).
Photo: Matthew White/DTTWLN.com