Akron, OH - Over the years at the minor league level, lots of players come and go, and many fade from memory over time. After Saturday night, one thing is for certain. Jesus Aguilar will never be forgotten by Akron Aeros fans.
Aguilar, Akron's gregarious, 6-foot-3, power-hitting first baseman, added another chapter to his MVP-worthy season when he laced a two-run double in the eighth inning that gave the Aeros the lead and paved the way for a 5-3 victory over the Reading Fightin Phils at Canal Park.
It was the second straight night that Aguilar delivered a game-altering hit in the bottom of the eighth. On Friday, he slugged a three-run homer that gave the Aeros a 3-2 victory over the Fightin' Phils in the series opener.
Not only did his timely two-bagger help win a ball game Saturday, it also made Aguilar one of the top run-producers in the 25-year history of the Aeros franchise. His two-run double, along with his RBI single in the first inning, raised Aguilar's RBI total to 97, which ties the all-time Aeros single season record. He now shares that record with Wes Hodges and Carlos Santana, both of whom also had 97 RBI in 2008, and 2009, respectively.
If Aguilar can drive in just one more run over Akron's remaining 16 games, he will etch his name onto the top line of the record book. The 23-year-old native of Maracay, Venezuela, is in his first full season at the Double-A level, and is regarded as one of the top position player prospects in the Indians organization. After his 2-4 performance on Saturday, Aguilar is hitting .277, with 15 home runs and 97 RBI.
The Aeros (58-67) rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning after falling behind, 3-2, on Jim Murphy's solo homer off Shawn Armstrong (1-2) in the top of th inning.
Reading starter Mario Hollands tossed seven strong innings, but used 114 pitches to do it. So, righthander Kyle Simon entered the game in the eighth, protecting a one-run Phils lead. Simon (1-6) gave up a lead-off hit to Jose Ramirez. That hit was followed by a perfectly-placed bunt single by Tyler Naquin to put two runners aboard. After a groundout moved the runners to second and third, Aguilar stepped up and cracked his haymaker just inside the bag at third to score both runners.
Carlos Moncrief chipped in a RBI single to chase Aguilar home, and make it 5-3 in favor of the Aeros.
Aeros closer Jose Flores, exercising the memory of two blown saves in his last two outings, came on in the ninth and slammed the door in 1-2-3 fashion to collect his 13th save. Armstrong earned the win, having pitched the eighth, and despite giving up the Murphy homer.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Fightin' Phils (52-72). The Aeros are now 7-2 against Reading in the season series.
Ramirez had a pair of hits and his league-leading 36th stolen base. He also scored twice for the Aeros. Naquin enjoyed a two-hit night, his first multi-hit game at Double-A. Tyler Holt had an RBI triple in Akron's two-run first inning.
The Aeros and Fightin' Phils will wrap up the series on Sunday afternoon at 2:05. LHP Jesse Biddle (4-12, 3.72) will go for the Phils, while RHP Brett Brach (7-9, 5.43) will try and lead Akron to a series sweep.