Major league rehabber Bryce Harper helped stake visiting Harrisburg to a 4-3 victory Friday with two RBI at the plate and then contributed a defensive play in the ninth inning to preserve the one-run victory that handed the Senators the win in the second game of a four-game series at Canal Park.
After scoring a run on a Jake Lowery triple and Jordan Smith double in the third inning, the Ducks were shut out for the next five innings by Harrisburg starting pitcher John Simms.
But the host rallied in ninth inning against the Senators bullpen as reliever Tyler Herron struggled to slam the door shut. Herron dished up a leadoff home run to Kent State product Anthony Gallas, and then issued back-to-walks to Bryan LaHair and Tony Wolters with no outs.
But with the tying run at the plate, the Senators went back to the bullpen and brought on Robert Benincasa to finish the job. The right-hander did just that in retiring the first batter he faced before Ronny Rodriguez doubled to pull the Ducks to within a run before clinching the win.
Harper gave Benincasa a huge hand, when he fielded Rodriguez’s hard-hit shot to the gap in left center fielder and threw a laser to the cutoff man to strand Wolters at third base instead of being able to score and tie the game.
The loss was a double whammy for the Ducks, who lost centerfielder Tyler Naquin (who entered the game leading the team in hits with 93), when he promptly exited the game in the bottom of the eighth inning after being hit by a pitch on his right hand. After the game, Naquin was still at the hospital getting Xrays.
Naquin injury marks the third Akron starter in as many games to lose time to an injury. Wednesday the Ducks shortstop Francisco Lindor (nose) and second base man Joey Wendle (wrist) already sidelined.
The two teams continue the series tonight at 7:05 p.m. at Canal Park. Right-hander Duke von Schamann (3-1, 3.27) is slated to for the Ducks while right-hander Colin Bates (0-0, 3.86) will take the mound for the Senators.