September 13, 2016 Akron Rubberducks

We continue where we left off on September 11th, tracking the run of the 2016 Eastern League Champion Akron Rubberducks. On this date, they played game one of the five game series against the Trenton Thunder with Michael Peoples (pictured above) taking on Ronald Herrera.

While the last Ducks game covered was an extra inning, one hit shut out, this one was nearly the opposite. In the first inning alone more runs were scored by the Thunder than in the entire previous game. The first two hitters singled, but Peoples picked one off before Mike Ford hit a two run home run to give Trenton the lead. Peoples then allowed a double in the second, but otherwise settled down through the first three innings.

The Ducks got off to a bit of a slower start, striking out twice in the first and three more times in the second before getting their first hits in the third. In that inning, the first three hitters all singled for one run, then another scored on a ground out to tie the game at two. The third hit and first RBI came from a bit of a ringer as Yan Gomes, who was already a five year MLB vet and Silver Slugger winner, was on rehab assignment as he attempted to rejoin the Indians in the play-offs.

This one wasn’t going to be settled early, however, and the Thunder scored the very next inning. Mark Payton doubled off Peoples with one out and came home on Billy McKinney’s second double of the game. The Ducks attempted to comeback again in the bottom half, but were stopped short following a walk and Ivan Castillo double.

In the fifth, the ringer got things going again as Gomes doubled to start the inning. He moved up on a Nellie Rodriguez single before the bases were loaded on a Mike Papi. Following a pitching change, the Rubber Ducks normal catcher Eric Haase went deep to give Akron a three run lead on the grand slam.

Finally working with the lead, Peoples really locked things down. He gave up a double to Mike Ford to start the sixth, but struck out two in a row to end the threat. He struck out one more in a perfect seventh before being pulled for relief in the eighth. He ultimately allowed three runs on seven hits with eight K’s and two walks.

David Speer replaced Peoples, but allowed a triple to top Yankees prospect Miguel Andujar to start the inning. After a walk and a K, he was replaced by Cole Sulser with two on and one out. It only took one pitch for Sulser to get Dante Bichette Jr. to ground a ball back to him that he immediately turned into a 1-6-3 inning ending double play.

Eric Haase added a double for his second extra base hit of the game in the bottom half, but wasn’t able to score. Sulser then stayed on for the ninth and finished the game with a perfect inning for the save. Despite his ineffectiveness, Speer earned a hold as the RubberDucks took game one of the series.

Gomes, Haase and Castillo all had two hits for Akron and Eric Stamets walked twice, but the real offensive hero was Haase whose four RBI essentially won the game. Since we’ll be looking at Columbus over the next two days, there’s no spoiler in saying that the RubberDucks also won game two by a score of 4-2. Check back in with Indians Baseball Insider on September 16th for the thrilling finale of the 2016 Akron RubberDucks season!

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