Playing the outfield is new to Kyle Bellows, and it shows. Hitting, however, is not new to Bellows, and that also showed when he delivered a walk-off single in the Aeros’ 5-4 Eastern League victory over the Erie SeaWolves on Wednesday afternoon in Akron.
Bellows came to bat with a runner on third and one out in the bottom of the ninth in a 4-4 game.
Cleveland Indians super prospect Francisco Lindor waited on deck, and 5,284 Aeros fans eagerly anticipated the chance to see Lindor have the opportunity to play hero.
Bellows had other ideas and hit a 1-1 fastball to left field for the game-winning hit.
“I just wanted to get the ball in the outfield and give the guy on third a chance to score,” Bellows said. “I saw an inside fastball, he kind of jammed me a little bit. It was a good pitch, I just muscled it out there.”
Bellows, a third basemen by nature, recently was converted to a left fielder, a work that is still in progress.
In the third inning, Bellows made a great diving catch, moving to his right on a low, sinking line drive, reaffirming Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez’s decision to position him there.
In the sixth inning, his inexperience showed when he misplayed a line drive by SeaWolves catcher James McCann, conceding two bases.
“I kept telling my teammates the one hit right at me would be the tough one and I played it wrong,” Bellows said. “But [Tyler] Holt helped me out and gave me some pointers on how to play that ball. When you’re going back, you’ve got to pick a side and not backpedal.”
Lindor, playing in his second game with the Aeros after being promoted from high Class-A Carolina, made an early impact.
In the top of the first inning, he was covering second on a steal attempt, only to have a ground ball hit right at the bag, resulting in an easy inning-ending double play.
Lindor then led off the bottom half by getting his first Double-A hit. He stole second on the next pitch.
He scored on an opposite-field double by Cedric Hunter to give the Aeros (47-50) a 1-0 lead.
“We were expecting that,” Rodriguez said. “Defensively, you’ve seen what he can do. Offensively, of course, he’s going to have to make some adjustments to the higher level. But he’s going to be fine.”
Lindor showed impressive plate discipline for a 19-year-old, working two full counts and drawing his third walk in two games.
Not worried about getting his first hit, Lindor just wanted to help the team win.
“I scored, so that’s all that matters,” Lindor said. “I got on base, stole second and scored. Any way that I can help the team is good.”
Starting pitcher Will Roberts didn’t have the best outing, giving up four runs in five innings, but he kept the Aeros in the game before handing the ball over to the bullpen, which held the SeaWolves (49-46) scoreless the rest of the way.
Trailing 4-2, Matt Lawson led off the eighth inning with a bunt single, went to second on a walk and scored on a single by Ronny Rodriguez.
Carlos Moncrief and Tyler Holt each walked to lead off the ninth inning, setting up Lawson and Bellows to deliver back-to-back singles for the win.
“They just stayed in the game all day, you gotta give them credit,” Rodriguez said. “We kept saying in the dugout ‘Just find a way to win’ and we found a way.”
Jose Flores earned the win, improving to 6-2.
Holt led the Aeros, reaching base in all four plate appearances. He doubled, walked three times, scored twice and stole a base.