Aeros Advance to Eastern League Finals, Captains Force Game Three
Aeros Win Game Five, Advance to Eastern League Final; Aeros 5, Baysox 2
By Ronnie Tellalian
The Akron Aeros battle back, down 0-2 in the best of five Eastern League Western Division series to score a stunning victory over the Wild Card winning Bowie Baysox. Akron came out guns blazin’ to start the game, and never looked back, as they take the series finale 5-2.
Starting the day for the Akron Aeros was the rehabbing Carlos Carrasco. The former Indian threw his rehab inning, and gave way to Akron’s RHP Brett Brach (5-7, 3.65). Branch pitched masterfully, giving up only two runs in his six and two thirds innings of work.
“Brett [Branch] went out there and shut them down for six innings,” Aeros manager Chris Tremie said of his winning pitcher “he really threw the ball great today.”
Bowie’s starter Timothy Bascom (6-6, 4.41) did not fare so well. The Baysox 2012 strikeout leader served up nothing but hits as the Aeros tagged him for four runs in the first two innings.
After Carrasco blanked the Baysox with two strikeouts in the top half of the first, Akron right fielder Jordan Henry drew a full count walk to lead things off for the Aeros. Wasting no time, Henry took off for second base on the first pitch to Tyler Holt. The ball bounced in the dirt in front of Baysox catcher Caleb Joseph, and Henry was safe without a throw. Holt then did his job by putting the ball in play, and moving Henry over to third base on a ground out. Designated hitter Chun Chen hit a chopper up the middle that looked like it was headed for center field. Second baseman Buck Britton made a terrific diving play, wheeled, and fired to first, but the hustling Chen beat the throw, and Henry scored on the play to give the Aeros the early 1-0 lead. The inning wasn’t over there, as Jesus Aguilar followed with a walk. Up to the plate stepped the recently struggling Adam Abraham. The slumping left fielder was just 1 for 13 (.077 average) entering the game, but that made Abraham change his approach.
“Tonight I just wanted to slow myself down and get a good pitch to hit,” Abraham said, “I got a good pitch and I made solid contact.”
Solid contact he made, as he smashed a line drive up the middle, scoring both Chen and Aguilar. Abraham added two more hits on the day, including a triple, and two RBI.
The Aeros picked up where they left off in the second inning, shortstop Davis Stoneburner, and fine defensive player, but hitting just .196 on the year, lead off with flare into center field. Bowie middle man Antoan Richardson looked like he would attempt a diving play, but pulled up at the last second. The ball bounced just in front of the Richardson as he put on the brakes, and bounced up and off his chest. Stoneburner took advantage of the gaff, and scrambled into second base. The official scorer ruled it a double, and the Aeros had a man in scoring position with no outs.
Two quick outs followed, and Tyler Holt strolled into the batter’s box to make his mark on game. Holt promptly roped a single to right field, where Josh Barfield scooped the ball up, and fired a missile to home in an attempt to gun down Stoneburner. The throw barely beat the wily runner, but Stoneburner slid around the tag of Caleb Joseph, and the Akron Aeros led 4-0.
Aeros pitcher Rob Branch shut down the Baysox through the fifth inning, but the away team finally managed to push across a run in the sixth. The lightning fast Antoan Richardson laid down a beautiful bunt to third base. Manning that zone was Ryan Rohlinger, who made a smooth barehanded grab, but the throw didn’t get there in time to beat the swift Richardson.
Buck Britton then singled down the left field line, and Richardson again showed off his wheels, charging around second and sliding feet first ahead of the throw from surprised left fielder Abraham. With runners on the corners, Ty Kelly, who was on fire all series with a .417 batting average, smacked a Branch fastball to medium deep center. The sac fly easily scored Richardson. And the Bowie squad clawed a bit closer as the score now stood 4-1.
The Aeros got that run back in the seventh, when Holt led off with a walk. After the runner stole second, Chen came up and chopped one up the middle that got by the converging infielders to score Holt. Akron again led by four.
Bowie managed only one more run when Barfield homered to left field in the eight. Hector Rondon came on for the save, and sat the Baysox down 1-2-3.
The Akron Aeros showed tremendous heart after dropping the first two games of the five game set. Defending their home turf was something they were prepared to do however.
“You have to win three games to win a series,” Tremie said. “I told them `lets go home and win three` and they did it.”
The proud manager had one final boast about his boys.
“When you’re down 0-2 and you come back and sweep, that says a lot about your guys. They never gave up”.
The Aeros advance to the Eastern League finals for the first time since 2009. Akron has not yet set their pitching rotation for the upcoming series, but they will face Trenton in a five game thriller. The first two games will be played at Canal Park, with the remainder on the road in Trenton.
Superstition may be on Akron’s side this year. The Aeros have won three Eastern titles, and in each of those years, and Akron pitcher tossed a no hitter. On July 15 of this year, Giovanni Soto threw a no-hitter against Altoona. Let’s hope the trend continues in 2012.
Big Innings and Myles’ Three Hits Sends Lake County to Game Three; Captains 7, Tin Caps 4
By Mike Brandyberry
The victory sends the Captains to a deciding Game Three in the Midwest League Division Series. Monday evening’s winner will advance to the Midwest League Championship Series. The Captains took advantage of a costly error in the second inning and hit 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Bryson Myles’ three hits helped pace Lake County. He’s now a blistering 8-for-13 in the playoffs.
“I’m getting my pitch and making sure I don’t miss when they make a mistake,” Captains outfielder Bryson Myles said.
The Tin Caps took the lead in the top of the second when Lee Orr singled to center to start the inning. Austin Hedges doubled off Araujo to deep center field over Tyler Naquin’s to score Orr and give Fort Wayne a 1-0 lead.
Araujo did a good job of minimizing the damage and keeping the deficit at one. The Tin Caps Duanel Jones popped up a bunt that Alex Lavisky made a diving catch in foul ground to record the first out and then retired Mike Gallic on a ground ball to short for the second out. Tyler Stubblefield grounded to Lindor to end the inning and keep damage minimized.
However, the Captains came back and took control of the game in the bottom of the second inning off Tin Caps pitcher Erik Cabera and some questionable defense. Jake Lowery led off the inning reaching on an error by the second baseman. Bryson Myles then reached on an infield single before Tyler Naquin singled up the middle to score Lowery from second and tie the game at one run apiece.
Alex Lavisky followed with a single to load the bases before Joseph Wendle hit a sacrifice fly to give Lake County the lead. Jose Ramirez followed with a single to center field to score a sliding Naquin. After Francisco Lindor struck out, Jordan Smith issued the big blow of the inning, tripling down the right field line to score Ramirez and Lavisky and give the Captains a 5-1 lead. Only two of the five runs scored in the inning were earned. Myles didn’t feel like the team was under any added pressure with the idea of elimination a possibility.
“Nothing needed to be said,” Myles said. “The bus ride back from Indiana (Saturday) was quiet. The locker room was loose (Sunday). It took care of itself.”
Fort Wayne began to scratch their way back into the game in the fourth inning with a two-out rally. Hedges singled to lead off the inning, but Araujo retiRed Jones on a ground ball to shortstop that moved Hedges to second and struck out Gallic before Kyle Gaedele singled up the middle to score Hedges and cut the Captains lead to 5-2.
Second baseman Tyle Stubblefield tried to redeem his costly error in the second inning with a double to center field to scorre Gaedele all the way from first base and make it a 5-3 game before Araujo retired Travis Jankowski for the final out in the inning.
The Captains answered back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the fourth inning when Wendle earned his first hit as a Captain with a triple to the right center field gap. It was his first hit since his promotion for the Midwest League playoffs from Mahoning Valley. He’d score on Ramirez’s sacrifice fly to give Lake County a 6-3 lead through four innings.
Tin Caps starter, Cabrera did not make it through the fourth, however. He was removed after three and two-third innings, allowing eight hits, six runs—only three earned—while walking two and striking out two. He was relieved by James Jones who recorded the final out of the inning.
Araujo would not make the necessary five innings to qualify for the win though. After retiring the first two hitters in the fifth, Orr hit a bomb to deep center field to cut the Captains’ lead to 6-4. After an error by Wendle at third base, Araujo was removed from the game. He only pitched four and two-third innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, while walking two and striking out three. Manny Carmona finished the inning, albeit very rocky with a walk and two wild pitches, with a fly out to right field.
Meanwhile Jones slowed down the Captains’ offense, working two and one-third innings, allowing one hit and striking out two before handing the pitching duties to Daniel Cropper in the top of the seventh inning.
Likewise, Louis Head came on for the Captains in relief of Carmona in the top of the sixth inning and shut down the Tin Caps offense, just like Jones did against Lake County. Head worked three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit—an infield single—and striking out two. Head fanned both hitters in his final frame of work.
Lake County tacked on another run in the eighth inning when Jake Lowery walked. Todd Hankins pinch-ran and stole second base on the first pitch. Bryson Myles doubled down the right field line and scored Hankins, giving the Captains a 7-4 lead. Myles had three hits on the evening.
Elvis Araujo worked a scoreless ninth inning to give the Captains the victory and send them to a final Game Three on Monday night.
“I knew we’d be ready. The guys haven’t panicked all year,” Captains Manager Dave Wallace said.
The deciding Game Three between the two teams will be Monday at Lake County at 7:00 pm. The Captains will send Cody Anderson (4-7, 3.20 ERA) to the mound, while the Tin Caps will counter with James Needy (1-0, 3.60 ERA).
Photo: Matthew White/DTTWLN.com