September 6, 2018 Akron Rubberducks

During the 2018 season, the Akron Rubberducks ran a 78-62 record to finish right behind the Altoona Curve in second in the Western Division in the Easter League and earned the right to play the Curve in the first round of the play-offs. On this day, they played game two of that opening series after winning game one 5-2 thanks largely to Kyle Dowdy and Josh Donaldson.

Jake Paulson started game two at Canal Park against Eduardo Vera. While both starters would last deep into the game and pitch incredibly well, the Curve grabbed first blood when Cole Tucker hit a home run to lead off the game. While Paulson continued to teeter a bit throughout, he used three double plays in the first four innings to keep the Pittsburgh affiliate from further score. He really settled down from there, not allowing another base runner in the fifth or the sixth and just one walk in the seventh.

At the same time, only one Duck hitter reached through the first five innings and he was also caught in a double play, so Vera had faced the minimum through five. In the sixth, the Ducks finally exploited a moment of weakness. Jodd Carter and Daniel Salters (pictured top) singled back-to-back to start the inning and, thanks to some aggressive base running, Carter was able to score from third on a ground out. Salters moved up on a wild pitch, but was stranded at third with the game tied.

Jodd Carter1
Carter stands at the plate for the Indians during 2018 extended spring training in Goodyear, AZ. – Joseph Coblitz IBI

Argenis Angulo came in for relief in the eighth and retired two before David Speer recorded the last out of the inning. He stayed on into nine and struck out one and walked another before being replaced himself. Jordan Milbrath then came in to clean up and got the assist from Daniel Salters, who caught Bryan Reynolds attempting to steal. In the bottom half, Vera was finally pulled from the game, but the Ducks went 1-2-3 with two K’s, leading into extra innings.

Both Milbrath and Matt Eckelman, the Curve reliever, stayed in for the tenth. Milbrath put Altoona away quickly without a base runner and Nellie Rodriguez put them away even more quickly in the bottom half as he hit the first pitch from Eckelman over the left field wall for the game winning, walk-off homer.

The Ducks would go on to lost the following game, but win game four in a dominant shut out to move on to the next round. They didn’t fare as well against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, however, as they were swept three games to none.

Jordan Milbrath
Milbrath covers first during a defensive drill during 2016 MiLB spring training. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

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