Soto, Aeros cruise to 8th straight win
AKRON -- Akron Aeros southpaw Giovanni Soto pitched seven masterful innings of one-run baseball on Wednesday, carrying the Aeros to a 3-1 win over the Binghamton Mets at Canal Park.
The first-place Aeros (17-6) extended their winning streak to eight games. They have won all six games on the current home stand, and are 11-2 at home this season. Akron’s lead in the Eastern League Western Division stands at 4.5 games.
Soto, making his fifth start, went seven innings for his longest outing of the season. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out nine B-Mets. His nine strikeouts were a career high.
“My fastball was working really well tonight,” said Soto, through translator Paolo Espino. “I was throwing a lot of sinkers that were doing their job. I was getting a lot of ground balls.”
Akron Aeros manager Chris Tremie was happy with Soto’s progress, saying he has had him working on his control in bullpen sessions.
“Probably his best outing of the year,” said Tremie. “Seven innings, a couple quick innings. He threw the fastball really well tonight which is something he’s been working on.”
Soto ran into his only trouble of the night in the top of the sixth. After walking Binghamton center fielder Matt Den Dekker to start the inning, Soto allowed back-to-back singles that drove in the only Mets run. With runners on first and third, Soto struck out a batter before designated hitter Eric Campbell hit a hard liner to the pitcher’s mound. Soto made the catch and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.
“It was big for him to finish the inning,” said Tremie. “He got in a situation there, first and third, and he didn’t back off at all. He went right after the guy and when you do that, a lot times good things happen.”
Soto pitched one more inning, finishing with 99 pitches (62 for strikes).
Akron took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a throwing error by Binghamton shortstop Rylan Sandoval that allowed second baseman Davis Stoneburner to reach second with no outs. After advancing on a wild pitch by B-Mets starter Mark Cohoon, Stoneburner scored on a ground out by shortstop Ryan Rohlinger.
The Aeros added two more runs in the fourth. After a fly out to begin the inning, designated hitter Adam Abraham and right fielder Thomas Neal hit back-to-back doubles to make the score 2-0. Two batters later, Neal scored on a single off the glove of Binghamton second baseman Reese Havens.
The two-run rally closed the book on Cohoon, who pitched five innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk.
Both bullpens kept opposing lineups quiet. For Akron, Kyle Landis continued his strong relief work, pitching two innings for his first save of the season. He worked around two hits and a walk, striking out two. After his two scoreless innings, his ERA sat at 0.61 for the season.
Armando Rodriguez replaced Cohoon in the sixth inning and dominated the Akron lineup. He worked through three innings, allowing no base runners. He also failed to register a strikeout.
The Aeros will go for the series sweep and perfect home stand at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday night against Binghamton. Akron right-hander Mason Radeke (1-0, 0.00) will make his first start of the season against Binghamton's right-hander Collin McHugh (3-2, 2.33).
Notes: Jared Goedert reached base twice and leads the Eastern League with a .397 average. ... Paolo Espino (strained left oblique) will pitch a simulated game in the next few days. ... Announced attendance: 1,069.
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.