There's no mercy rule in minor league baseball.
If there was, the Aeros sunny Sunday afternoon game against Reading would have been called after the first inning, instead of playing out the full nine in a 12-2 victory that clinched a three-game series sweep.
In the lengthy bottom of the first, the Aeros batters dispatched Reading starting pitcher B.J. Rosenberg after just 2/3 of an inning, pounding him for seven runs on on four hits, two walks and a hit batter.
But the Aeros offensive surge did not end after Rosenberg exited the mound. Instead, the onslaught continued as R-Phils reliever Jordan Ellis gave up four more runs on five hits and two walks in 2 2/3 emergency innings.
While the Phillies struggled to find a pitcher to stop the bleeding, Aeros starter Joe Gardner no-hit the visitors through four innings en route to the win, not bothered a bit by the long layoff between the first and second innings.
"I went down in the tunnel and threw a little bit with (catcher Juan) Apodaca while we were waiting for the inning to end," Gardner said. "I was just happy the guys were swinging the bats and we were going for the sweep. When I went back out there, I just stayed at it and didn't let up."
With the Aeros holding a commanding 12-0 advantage, the power at Canal Park went out briefly, leaving the teams to play a portion of the fifth inning the old fashioned way - without a scoreboard, public address announcer and music in between at bats.
That's when Reading finally broke up the shutout by getting on the board with two runs against Gardner. In the confusion, home plate umpire Tom Woodring lost track of the count and allowed Phillies first baseman Matt Rizzotti to begin the inning with a walk.
"It was 2-2 and (Woodring) said it was 3-2 and that I walked him," Gardner said. "I always keep count in my head, but that's all right. Stuff like that's going to happen and as a pitcher you can't let it bother you."
Reading centerfielder Derrick Mitchell followed with a single to center and with two outs, former Aeros infielder Niuman Romero doubled home the pair to cut Reading's deficit to 10 runs. But the R-Phils couldn't inch any closer as relievers Adam Miller and Eric Berger combined to shut them out over the final three innings, giving up just two hits.
Thanks to seven strong innings, Gardner evened his record to 5-5. He allowed just two runs on four hits while striking out six. The game marked the first for Gardner being caught by Matt McBride, who was catching for just the second time in nearly two years.
"I've thrown a couple bullpens to Matt and he's handled me pretty well," Gardner said. "That was the first time in a game, but going in I was very confident with him and he did well with making calls and keeping me within the strike zone."
McBride was just as good in front of the plate as he was behind it, going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Aeros third baseman Kyle Bellows also picked up his first three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, a RBI and three runs scored. Rightfielder Donnie Webb also went 2-for-3 with two RBI as Akron's offense banged out 12 hits on the afternoon.
"You have good days and you have bad and I have had a lot more bad than good," said Bellows, whose multi-hit performance raised his batting average to .199. "But I have been hitting the ball hard lately, so it's been a process. I am getting better every day, so that's the main thing."