MANCHESTER, NH – The host New Hampshire Fisher Cats rallied for five runs in a deciding eighth inning against the Aeros bullpen Thursday night for a 9-6 victory in the rubber match of a three-game series at Merchantsauto.com Stadium. It was a rare mishap for the Akron bullpen, which entered the game with a 3.70 ERA this year, and the entire pitching staff allowed 10 walks and seven hits in front of the crowd of 5,437 fans. The Aeros lost their first series since May 24-27 against Altoona in falling back down to .500 at 33-33 overall and second-place New Hampshire improved to 41-26.
After a quiet start, the Fisher Cats struck in the third and fourth third innings against Akron starting pitcher Kelvin De La Cruz. Callix Crabbe recorded the RBI in the third a groundout while Al Quintana had a run-scoring single in the fourth to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage.
The Aeros offense responded with a bang in the top of the fifth as Cristo Arnal reached first on a bunt single to start the rally. Catcher Damaso Espino followed on the next pitch against New Hampshire’s Ronald Uviedo with his second home run of the season to tie the score at 2-2. Second baseman Jason Kipnis smacked a double to left two batters later and Lonnie Chisenhall promptly delivered the second two-run homer of the inning.
The two teams traded runs in the ensuing frames as Shawn Bowman doubled home Darrin Mastroianni in the fifth and three walks in the sixth helped New Hampshire tie the game again at 4-4. Akron scored for the final time of the night in the seventh to recapture a two-run lead on back-to-back RBI singles from Matt McBride and John Drennen.
New Hampshire took control in the eighth thanks to two leadoff walks against reliever Connor Graham. With two outs and the bases loaded, Manny Mayorson delivered a clutch game-tying single to right and just afterwards, Bowman smashed a three-run homer against new pitcher Steven Wright to provide for the final margin of the night.
Graham (2-4) took the loss after entering the game having allowed only one earned run in his first 10 appearances as a reliever this season. Adrian Martin (3-1) earned the win for the Cats with a scoreless eighth while normal setup man Tim Collins recorded his third save with three strikeouts despite two hits in the ninth. Akron’s bullpen permitted six runs on five walks and three hits in the final 3.1 innings pitched of the night.
Four Aeros batters finished with multi-hit performances, led by the pair of two-run homers from Chisenhall and Espino in the fifth. Leadoff center fielder Jordan Henry had his first two Double-A base hits and collected two walks while McBride’s singles extended his road on-base streak to 27 straight games. Chisenhall’s home run was his sixth in just 18 games played since returning from the disabled list on May 28th.
Following the game Thursday, the Aeros hit the road again for a two-hour bus ride to Maine for the beginning of a weekend series with the Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field. Akron won two of three last week at Canal Park against Portland and Friday night’s game at 7:00 p.m. will feature a matchup of two of the top pitching prospects in the Eastern League. Aeros left-hander Nick Hagadone (1-0, 4.26 ERA) makes his fourth career Double-A start against Casey Kelly (1-3, 4.28 ERA) of the Sea Dogs. Join Ken Carman for Friday night’s game broadcast, beginning at 6:45 p.m. on Fox Sports 1350 AM and at www.akronaeros.com. For more information, please call the Aeros at (330) 253-5151.