Akron's Brett Brach pitches seven shutout innings against Altoona and the Aeros scored two runs in the top of the ninth to take a 3-1 victory Tuesday night at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
The Aeros (79-57) defeated the Curve (66-70) to lower the magic number for clinching the EL West crown to three with six games left to play. Any combination of Akron wins and Bowie losses equaling three will result in a division title for Akron. Bowie defeated Erie, 4-2, on Tuesday night.
Brach (4-7) earned the win, pitching seven excellent innings and limiting the Curve to no runs on just three hits. In the process, Brach walked three and struck out four, lowering his ERA to 3.90. Shawn Armstrong and Preston Guilmet followed Brach, each with an inning of relief. Armstrong struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth inning, while Guilmet worked the ninth to pick up his 24th save of the season. The combined efforts of Brach, Armstrong, and Guilmet limited Altoona to just three hits on the night.
The Akron offense was relatively quiet on the night but managed to score a run on Adam Abraham's RBI single in the second inning. The Aeros led 1-0 until the top of the ninth inning when they scored two more runs on a Jordan Henry two-run single. Henry's hit proved to be the game-winner when Altoona managed a run in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch. Henry, Jesus Aguliar, and Abraham led the Akron attack as they all recorded multi-hit nights.
The Curve did manage to score a run in the ninth inning when Drew Maggi took a leadoff walk, advanced to second on an Andrew Lambo single, and scored on a wild pitch. Only five hitters reached base on the night for Altoona, including Ramon Cabrera and Lambo both of whom achieved the feat twice. Cabrera's double in the fourth inning was the sole extra-base hit for the Curve.
Altoona starter Tyler Waldron (1-2) took the tough-luck loss, lasting seven innings and allowing one run. Waldron allowed six hits, while walking three and striking out two in his fifth AA start. Nathan Baker allowed two unearned runs in 1 1/3 innings of work when his own throwing error helped the two-run Akron ninth. Altoona closer Vic Black finished the game for Altoona, pitching 2/3 of an inning, striking out two but allowing the single to Henry.
The Aeros and Curve will continue the series Wednesday night at 7:00. RHP Paolo Espino (7-3, 3.23) will take the hill for Akron while RHP Brandon Cumpton (11-11, 4.07) will counter for the Curve.