Like an NBA basketball game, there was really no reason to watch the Aeros game Saturday until the eighth inning, for that’s when all the action really began.
That is, once the bullpen took over the Rock Cats got to work. In four innings, the Aeros relievers combined to allow 12 runs on 12 hits (including two home runs), four walks, two wild pitches and a hit batter.
The result was a hard-fought 12-7 New Britain victory.
The Aeros got on the board first, taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning against New Britain starting pitcher Virgil Vasquez.
Aeros leadoff man and first baseman Jesus Aguilar started the rally by reaching safely on a throwing error on Rock Cats thrid baseman Miguel Sano. Right fielder Carlos Moncrief followed with his 13th double off the right center field wall that just missed being a home run.
Aeros centerfielder Tyler Holt continued the rally with a run-scoring single, then Moncrief scored on a double play that third baeman Giovanny Urshela hit into, giving the host the early lead.
The Aeros got right back to work building on the lead, as shortstopJose Ramirez led off the bottom of the third inning with a triple, then coasted home on second baseman Ronny Rodriguez's single to make it 3-0 Akron.
Aeros starter and right-hander Toru Murata held New Britain scoreless through seven innings, scattering five hits and not issuing a walk. But as soon as Murata was gone, the Rock Cats jumped all over Aeros reliever Cole Cook, who wiped out all thoughts of a quick and tidy game.
After retirring the first batter he faced, Cook served up a home run to right fielder Jordan Parraz that broke up the host’s shutout bid and went on to give up two more runs in just 2/3 of an inning to the game 3-3 in the eighth.
But the Aeros pulled the same trick against Rock Cats reliever Dan Turpen, working back-to-back walks with one out in the bottom of the inning. Urshela came up with the big two-out hit, a two-run triple that put the host back on top by two. The Aeros added an insurance run with more help from Turpen, whose wild pitch followed by a passed ball that scored Urshela and gave Akron a 6-3 lead.
But the Rock Cats rallied against Aeros closer Jose Flores, who came on to get the third out of the eighth inning. Despite striking out leadoff man Sano, a Flores wild pitch allowed him to reach safely. Flores gave up four runs in all, as New Britain took a 7-6 lead.
But the Aeros wouldn’t go away. Not against Josmil Pinto, who moved from behind the plate at catcher to pitch the bottom of the ninth. Rodriguez led off the frame with a single and soon scored on an Aguilar double off the wall to tie the game again, this time at 7-7.
New Britain second baseman Eddie Rosario picked up his third single of the game with one out in the 11th inning, this one of the RBI variety to put the RockCats on top and spark them to a five run inning against Aeros veteran reliever Rob Bryson.
This time the Aeros had no rallies left in them and went quietly in the bottom of the inning, to give the Rock Cats the hard-fought victory.