Akron, OH- The titanic struggle that was the entire five-game series between the Akron Aeros and Altoona Curve fittingly ended on a game full of frustration and head-scratchers, as the Aeros fell, 5-4 at Canal Park on Sunday.
The Aeros (39-43) held a 4-3 lead entering the top of the eighth inning when the tough weekend caught up to the bullpen. After a leadoff double, followed by a strikeout and intentional pass off reliever Enosil Tejeda (0-1, 1.69 ERA), reliever J.D. Reichenbach came on and walked two runs in to put Altoona up for good.
It was a tough two-day debut for Reichenbach, who surrendered a total of six runs in 2.1 innings against the Curve (36-46).
But centerfielder Tyler Holt broke the wheels out in what would have been the key sequence of the contest in the bottom of the seventh by quickly swiping third and then making the break for home. The attempt caught Altoona reliever Jhonathan Ramos off-guard, causing him to balk in Holt, allowing Akron to take their first lead of the day at 4-3.
Earlier in the game, Altoona picked up where they left off last night, as rightfielder Alex Dickerson blasted his second home run in as many games, giving the Curve the early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. It was a 3-for-3 outing for Dickerson, as he later added a pair of doubles to his overall magnificent day.
With a small cushion to work with, Altoona starter Casey Sadler made his way onto the mound, only to leave the game just four pitches later after sustaining an injury to his right leg. The righthander was struck on the inner-part of his right knee by a comebacker from Akron shortstop, Jose Ramirez, which promptly ended Sadler's day.
Replacing and relinquishing the lead for the Curve was Nate Baker, who surrendered an RBI-double to deep center to Jesus Aguilar, knotting things up at 2-2. The double increased Aguilar's league-leading RBI total to 60, however, it also ended up being a short day for the first baseman, as he was tossed for arguing a called third strike during his second at-bat.
Baker settled in nicely after the turbulent first, sitting down 10 straight Aeros before walking Justin Toole in the fifth.
Similarly for the Aeros, starter Jordan Cooper was able to calm himself and pitched effectively, lasting 5.2 innings, giving up three runs off five hits, while striking out three and walking four.
Akron caught a couple of breaks in the bottom half of the sixth, as the Aeros were able to cash in off a pair of Altoona fielding blunders, which were later proceeded by a passed ball to the backstop, scoring the game-tying run from third.
But in the end, the inability of the Aeros to throw strikes in the top of the eighth was too much to overcome.
Akron will hit the road to open an eight-game road trip, starting against the Bowie Baysox on Monday night at 7:00. RHP Will Roberts (5-5, 4.94 ERA) is the announced starter for Akron, while RHP Eduardo Rodriguez (NR) is the expected starter for Bowie.