Aeros lose late inning thriller to Curve, 5-4
Akron, OH – About the same time the Harrisburg Senators were wrapping up a 6-3 win over the Altoona Curve Tuesdaynight, Erie’s Wade Gaynor was making darn sure the SeaWolves didn’t lose any ground in the nip-and-tuck EL Western Division race.
Gaynor lined an RBI base hit to center field in the top of the 10th inning, scoring James McCann who had doubled, to lift the SeaWolves to a 5-4 victory over the Akron Aeros in a late-summer thriller at Canal Park.
The SeaWolves (72-63) have captured the first two games in this pivotal, four-game series with the Aeros. Tuesday’s win kept Erie just a half-game behind the front-running Senators. It also strengthened Erie’s hold on the EL West wild card as both Bowie and Richmond lost, leaving those teams 4 ½, and five games out, respectively. The SeaWolves are attempting to reach the EL playoffs for the first time since 2007. They have never won an EL title.
The loss officially eliminated the Aeros (64-71) from playoff contention, a stark contrast from this time a year ago. Last season, the Aeros won the league championship for the fourth time in team history.
Gaynor, the EL’s top defensive third baseman, is only hitting .227 for the year, but has managed to make the most of his hits. He now has 63 RBI, which ranks second on the team. None have been bigger, however, than his one-out single off Aeros closer Jose Flores (7-3) in the 10th inning Tuesday. It was his second hit of the night, and snapped a 4-4 deadlock.
Akron went quietly in the bottom of the 10th, going down in order against Erie closer Justin Souza, who recorded his 18th save. Souza and fellow-closer Melvin Mercedes have combined for 30 saves this season for Erie. Tyler Stohr (3-0) was the winner by virtue of his scoreless ninth inning.
Akron forced the tie by rallying from a 4-1 deficit with three runs in the seventh inning off Ramon Garcia and Will Startup. Jesus Aguilar singled off Garcia with one out, and Adam Abraham walked. Matt Lawson then cranked an RBI double to left to score Aguilar. It was Lawson’s seventh straight hit. Startup came on to relieve Garcia and got a quick out on a fly ball, but Chris Wallace delivered a two-run single to right to tie the game, 4-4.
Garcia was 4-0 against the Aeros last season, but had to settle for a no-decision on Tuesday in his first appearance against Akron this year.
The SeaWolves jumped to a 4-0 lead by the second inning against Akron starter Toru Murata. Jamie Johnson had the big blow when he belted a three-run homer in the second inning. It was just his second of the season. Murata settled after that, and worked 5 1/3 innings.
Akron got on the board in the fourth on a solo homer by Aguilar, his 16th of the season. The slugger raised his record RBI total to 101. The Aeros out-hit Erie, 14-7, and Akron pitchers fanned 14 hitters, but the game still managed to slip away.
The Aeros and SeaWolves will play game three of the series on Wednesday night at 7:05. RHP Warwick Saupold (7-5, 3.37) is the expected starter for the SeaWolves, while RHP Brett Brach (8-9, 5.12) will make the start for the Aeros.