The Aeros lost their second consecutive game to visiting Erie Wednesday afternoon, this time by a score of 8-5.
The Aeros (47-31) started the game with a bang, using three extra-base – including LF Nick Weglarz’s two-run home run – to take an early lead against former teammate and LHP Kelvin De La Cruz.
But Erie (38-39) pulled even in the fourth when RF Tony Plagman blasted a two-run shot of his own off Aeros starter and RHP Steven Wright to knot the score 2-2. The SeaWolves took the lead in the fifth inning when Wright walked in a run after loading the bases with two outs.
After coaxing groundouts out of the first two batters he faced in the inning, Wright allowed back-to-back singles to 3B Nick Castellanos and 1B Jordan Lennerton. LF Rawley Bishop worked a walk to load the bases and Plagman was just as patient to get another free pass to earn the RBI and give the SeaWolves the lead.
Wright’s 14th outing of the season was done after five-plus innings, having given up an uncharacteristic five runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks. However, the Eastern League’s second-leading ERA leader (1.98) did record six strikeouts before Aeros manager Chris Tremie made a call to the bullpen.
But when 7-foot-1 RHP Loek van Mil came on in relief, the Aeros situation quickly went from bad to worse. An RBI-single, run-scoring sacrifice bunt and rally-capping three-run home run by 1B Jordan Lennerton resulted in a five-run inning that all but put the game away.
In the seventh inning, the Aeros offense showed some life by pulling within three runs, 8-5, on 1B Chun Chen's sacrifice fly that scored SS Juan Diaz, who’d doubled with one out and took third on a wild pitch. But the Aeros momentum was halted when Weglarz was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Tom Honec about a called third strike.
De La Cruz (5-7, 4.20 ERA), whom the Indians traded in the off season to Texas and was later picked up by the Detroit Tigers, earned the win despite allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks over five innings.
Erie closer and RHP Bruce Rondon, who hit triple digits on radar gun in Tuesday’s series-opening game, made quick work of the bottom of the Aeros lineup in the ninth inning to pick up his fourth save.
Although he went 0-for-4 in his first game back in the Aeros lineup, Akron had the services of 3B Kyle Bellows for the first time since mid-June. Before the game, Bellows was activated from the disabled list, where he’d been since June 14th while nursing a left wrist injury. Bellows entered the game batting .246 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 55 games.