RubberDucks Sink Captains in Exhibition Finale; RubberDucks 11, Captains 1
Mike B. | On 01, Apr 2014
In each of their final tune-ups before the regular season openers, the Akron RubberDucks and Lake County Captains squared off in an exhibition game between Cleveland Indians affiliates this afternoon in Eastlake. The Double-A veterans asserted their experience and power, taking advantage of the youthful Low-A Captains.
Akron defeated Lake County, 11-1, making the most of 13 hits and five walks from Captain pitching. The RubberDucks took control of the game with an eight-run, fifth inning.
“It was a great experience,” Captains manager Mark Budzinski said. “The first four innings were tight and we got behind a little bit in the count and got some fastballs up in the zone and that’s what happens when you face Double-A hitters and above, but I was proud of the way guys handled themselves.”
Lake County took the early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Eric Haase, a second year Captains player, took former major leaguer Kyle Davies deep to left field for a home run. Davies is still trying to recover from shoulder surgery in Jan. 2012. He pitched last season in the Minnesota Twins’ organization, mostly at the Double-A level. Haase’s solo blast gave the Captains a 1-0 lead.
Akron rebounded quickly in the top of the second inning with a pair of home runs of their own off Captains’ starter Robbie Aviles. After Jake Lowery struck out, Ronny Rodriguez hit a long home run onto the left-center field hill at Classic Park. The RubberDucks went back-to-back when Giovanny Urshela took Aviles deep to right field to give Akron a 2-1 lead after two innings.
Aviles worked into the fourth inning before the Captains went to the bullpen. After retiring Ronny Rodriguez in the fourth, Urshela doubled and Jordan Smith singled. That ended Aviles’ day, pitching three and one-third innings, allowing six hits, two runs and striking out two. Aviles danced around trouble throughout the outing, but was only stung for the two solo home runs in the second inning.
“Urshela has really had a great spring and has put things together,” RubberDucks manager Dave Wallace said. “We’re going to look for him to take a leadership role on and off the field.”
Urshela had three hits on the game, including driving in three runs.
His bullpen mates would not fair as well as Aviles. Left-hander, Wander Beras finished the fourth inning for Lake County, retiring Tony Wolters and Bryson Myles to work out of the two-on, one-out jam. Beras quickly got himself into trouble in the fifth inning with control issues, however. After retiring Tyler Holt, Beras walked Francisco Lindor, before giving up a double to Joe Wendle and walking Jake Lowery to load the bases. Trevor Frank came on for the Captains to get Ronny Rodriguez to fly out to right field, allowing Lindor to score and extend the Akron lead to 3-1 before ending the inning without further damage.
Meanwhile, Davies cruised through the Captains lineup as he continues to try and rebuild his career. After allowing the home run to Haase in the first inning Davies only gave up one flare base hit to right field over his five innings of work. The former big league starter, allowed just two hits, one run, eight strikeouts and a walk in his five frames of work.
“What a pleasure it’s going to be to watch him—his presence in the clubhouse—and what he does out on the mound,” Wallace said. “Obvioiusly, he doesn’t have the velocity he once had, but he can pitch. It’s going to be very beneficial for our guys to watch how he works and he’s just going to continue to get stronger.”
Akron blew the game open in the top of the sixth inning by wearing down the Captains’ bullpen. Smith started the inning with a single and after Wolters flew to right field, Bryson Myles doubled Smith home. Myles scampered to third and to the plate on a wild pitch and passed ball from Frank and Haase to make it 5-1, RubberDucks.
After Holt grounded out and Lindor doubled down the left field line, Ben Heller replaced Frank on the mound for Lake County. Heller continued to struggle with control, walking Justin Toole and Lowery before Jerrud Sabourin singled in two runs and Urshela followed to single in a pair more and make it 9-1. Alexis Paredes came on to replace Heller, who had a rough outing. Paredes allowed a two-run double to pinch-hitter Alex Lavisky and Akron lead 11-1.
“Today was nice, but even before that we know we have some pop,” Wallace said. “I sat there for an hour last night trying to figure out a lineup because it doesn’t feel right putting Tony Wolters and Bryson Myles in the eight and nine hole. It’s a solid lineup from 1-9. Each guy from one to nine, can do damage.”
The offensive onslaught from Akron was without probable leadoff hitter, Tyler Naquin. Naquin, was hit-by-pitch on the ankle in one of the last Arizona exhibition games. He flew to Cleveland and will be available for Akron’s opener on Thursday.
Toru Murata pitched a scoreless sixth inning and Tyler Sturdevant did the same in the seventh to close out the Captains. In a game between seasoned minor leaguers and youthful players just starting their career, the difference showed between the two levels as the game carried on. Each team will begin league play in their own levels later this week.
“It’s just a good atmosphere to have some game like conditions and have the guys get used to the cold,” Wallace said.
Akron will open Eastern League play Thursday evening on the road against the Binghamton Mets with Cody Anderson on the mound. Lake County begins Midwest League play on Friday evening at home against the Lansing Lugnuts.
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photo