The Aeros offense had its share of timely hits Saturday against visiting Bowie, none bigger than Carlos Moncrief’s game-winning single to center in the bottom of the ninth inning that scored the speedy Jose Ramirez and handed the Aeros a 4-3 victory.
It was a night that began with Indians rehabbing right-handed pitcher Blake Wood on the mound to face the first five batters of the game before giving way to regularly-scheduled Aeros starter, right-hander Paolo Espino.
Wood retired the first two batters he faced via groundouts before walking the next batters batters. After giving up a run-scoring double to Bowie right fielder Henry Urrutia, Wood’s outing was done as he reached his limited pitch count.
In his first rehab appearance since undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, Wood tossed 23 pitches – and only eight for strikes.
Espino came on and quickly got out of the jam and then the offense quickly handed Espino the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Center fielder Tyler Holt reached safely on a throwing error and designated hitter Chun Chen doubled Holt home to tie game, 1-1 and get Wood off the hook for loss. Chen soon scored on an error while advancing to third base on a wild pitch, giving the Aeros a 2-1 lead.
The Baysox tied the game in the fourth inning after loading the bases with no outs thanks to a walk and two singles. But Espino limited the damage by allowing just one run on designated hitter Aaron Baker’s single that scored leadoff man Caleb Joseph.
But the Aeros breifly went ahead in the bottom of the sixth after they loaded the bases with no outs, but also only came away with one run on catcher Roberto Perez’s single that scored first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who singled to right field to lead off the inning.
The lead didn’t last long though as Espino got himself into another bases-loaded jam with a hit batsman, single and walk and Bowie left fielder Buck Britton stroked a single into right field to score first baseman Brandon Waring and tie the game, 3-3.
That was it for Espino, who proved to be effectively wild. In his 6 1/3 innings, he held Bowie to two runs while scattering five hits. He walked two batter and struck out eight before giving way to reliever Bryce Stowell, who went on to earn the win with two innings of scoreless relief.
With the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Ramirez led off with a single and moved to second on Holt’s sacrifice bunt. Chen was wisely intentionally walked. With two outs, Ramirez and Chen executed a double steal when the Baysox infielders failed to cover second and third.
With the runners in scoring position, Moncrief smashed a ball that dropped in deep centerfield for the game winner.
* SALUTE TO THE VEST - Jim Tressel Bobblehead night was a big hit Saturday, as the Aeros gave away 1,000 of the bobbleheads featuring Tressel wearing a blue vest - a nod to the anniversary of his current job as TK at the University of Akron. Team officials estimated the bobbleheads were gone in 10 minutes flat as people stood in lines outside park gates to get the free gift. Before the game, Tressel threw out the first pitch and then spent time signing autographs on the concourse once the game got underway.
* SOGGY DUGOUTS & MORE - A water main break on Main St. in front of Cilantro Restaurant at 5 a.m. Saturday morning caused extensive flooding at Canal Park, including in the team’s executive offices and leaving at least four feet of water in the dugouts. Aeros officials were quick to congratulate the city of Akron workers who spent a majority of the day making repairs and cleaning up the mess.
* NEXT GAME - Aeros RHP Brett Brach (1-2, 3.12 ERA) is slated to face Baysox RHP Kevin Gausman (1-3, 3.77 ERA) Sunday at 2:05 p.m. at Canal Park.