Reserve a spot in the Eastern League finals for the Akron Aeros. The comeback is complete.
It didn’t seem likely just three days earlier, but the Aeros are indeed Eastern Division champions after a 5-2 victory over Bowie in the fifth-and-deciding game Sunday night at Canal Park.
It was their third win in a row over the Baysox, who won the first two games of the series. But as they have been all season, the Aeros were dominant at home.
They staged an impromptu celebration, with players gleefully dumping cans of beer on one another as they bounced up and down on the diamond following the last out. They are hoping for an even bigger celebration in the near future.
The Aeros will host Trenton at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in a best-of-five matchup as they seek their fourth Eastern League championship and first since 2009. Trenton won its series against Reading in four games.
Akron couldn’t have scripted it better, scoring four runs in the first two innings and getting a big effort from right-hander Brett Brach, who allowed just two runs in 6⅔ innings to earn the win after a rehabbing Carlos Carrasco hurled a perfect first inning.
“It was a good evening,” said Aeros manager Chris Tremie. “Carlos started out with a really good inning for us. Then coming up and scoring the three runs and then adding a run and jumping out to a lead. And then Brach going out there and just shutting them down for six innings.”
Jordan Henry walked to lead off the bottom of the first and stole second.
Henry scored on Chun Chen’s one-out infield single off losing pitcher Tim Bascom. Jesus Aguilar walked and an infield out advanced the runners. Adam Abraham’s single to center scored both for a 3-0 lead.
Davis Stoneburner doubled to start the second and scored on Tyler Holt’s two-out single to make it 4-0.
Brach, who was the EL player of the week the final week of the regular season, extended his scoreless streak to 21⅔ innings before the Baysox scored a run on Ty Kelly’s sacrifice fly in the sixth.
“When you get down 2-0 in the series and you come back and sweep, that doesn’t happen very often,” said Tremie. “That says a lot about them.”
In fact, over the last seven Eastern League seasons, the teams winning the first two games of a playoff series had gone on to win the series all 11 times. The Aeros broke that trend Sunday.
The Aeros made it 5-1 in the seventh, when Holt walked and stole second, scoring on Chen’s second run-scoring single.
“We’re going to enjoy this win tonight and celebrate a little bit and prepare for Trenton tomorrow,” said Tremie.
Josh Barfield, who was the Indians’ starting second baseman in 2007, is now 29 and plays right field for the Baysox. Barfield drilled a long home run to left in the eighth.
Hector Rondon pitched a perfect ninth to earn the save. Once one of the Indians’ top pitching prospects, Rondon has pitched only 40 innings the past three seasons due to a number of injuries.