Image: TCP Photography/Courtesy Lake County Captains
The Akron RubberDucks (56-33) separated themselves from the pack by taking five games out of six against the Reading Fightin’ Phils (34-56) this week. Akron has given themselves a small cushion to work with as the season winds down and holds a 2.5-game advantage over two other teams. The Bowie Baysox and Portland Sea Dogs both sit at 53-35 with five series left in the 2021 regular season.
The bounce-back series for Akron was charged by 14 home runs, the second-most in the AA-Northeast League over the last week. The Akron bats woke up in a big way following Wednesday’s rainout with five home runs in a 12-0 blowout victory Thursday. Andruw Monasterio was a triple away from the cycle in the game with a three-run blast and RBI double in the eighth. Brayan Rocchio welcomed himself to the ball club with his first AA blast in the game as well. Steven Kwan went deep in game two on Saturday for the ‘Ducks only run of the game, but it was all Tanner Tully and Nick Mikolajchak needed to secure the victory in the second shutout of the series.
8/10: W 7-1 @ Reading; W: Konnor Pilkington (1-0) L: Josh Hendrickson (3-2)
8/11: PPD (weather) to 8/14
8/12: W 12-0 @ Reading; W: Juan Hillman (10-2) L: Jack Perkins (3-2)
8/13: W 9-3 @ Reading; W: Logan Allen (1-0) L: James McArthur (1-5)
8/14: L 7-4 @ Reading (F/7); W: Francisco Morales (3-10) L: Nic Enright (2-4)
W 1-0 @ Reading (F/7); W: Tanner Tully (6-3) L: Hans Crouse (0-1) S: Nick Mikolajchak (7)
8/15: W 11-7 @ Reading; W: Adam Scott (1-2) L: Noah Skirrow (0-2)
Prospect of the Week
SS Brayan Rocchio: 9-25 (.360), 6 R, 3 2Bs, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, 2 BBs, 1.288 OPS
Rocchio made his RubberDucks debut on July 31 and this week, he showed he is up for the task of elite play at the higher level. The 20-year-old Venezuelan displayed great pop and led the team with eight RBIs. His first three career homeruns came against the Fightin’ Phils this week and six of his nine total hits went for extra bases. Rocchio wrapped up the series with a 3-for-6 day, including four RBIs, two doubles and a homerun. One thing of note, all three of Rocchio’s homeruns came after getting ahead in the count.
3B Andruw Monasterio: 11-24 (.458), 8 R, 2 2Bs, 1 3B, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, 3 BBs, 1.411 OPS
Monasterio got on base 15 times in his 28 plate appearances and led Akron with eight runs scored. On top of that, Monasterio had five extra base hits, including two homeruns. The first three games of the series were key for Monasterio, as he totaled 18 bases. He was 4-for-4 on Tuesday, 3-for-5 on Thursday, and hit a homerun in Friday’s game, all of which were victories. He was a big part of the RubberDucks averaging nearly eight runs per game for the week and was called up to the AAA Columbus Clippers on Monday.
RHP Manuel Alvarez: 2 G, 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 7 Ks
Although against a Phils offense that was not putting up much of a fight, it’s hard to just glance over four perfect innings with seven strikeouts out of 12 batters faced. Alvarez put the finishing touches on a 12-0 shutout of Reading on Thursday and struck out the side in the ninth. He had a similar role in Sunday’s game, tasked with getting the final six outs, and he did so with relative ease to secure the 11-7 victory.
LHP Tanner Tully: 1-0, 2 G, 1 GS, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BBs, 0 R, 1 K
Tanner Tully was the game two starter in Saturday’s doubleheader and after a loss in game one, Tully was dominant on the bump for the RubberDucks to get a split. Tully scattered three hits and one walk over the six innings and three times was able to induce double plays to extend his outing. Every pitch was critical for Tully in a 1-0 seven-inning affair and he turned it over to Nick Mikolajchak in the final inning for the save. Tully also saw time in the series opener, where he threw two innings out of the bullpen for a hold.
LHP Juan Hillman: 1-0, 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BBs, 0 R, 6 Ks
Hillman picked up his league-leading tenth win of the season following a five-inning performance on Thursday. It is his second consecutive start holding opponents scoreless after he threw a seven-inning complete game shutout the week before. The southpaw got out of a bases loaded situation in the first inning with a timely double play ball and was able to scatter the rest of the damage over the next four innings and prevent a run from coming across.
RF Will Benson: 4-14 (.286), 3 R, 0 XBHs, 0 RBIs, 3 BBs, 1 SB
Will Benson continued to draw a few walks, but did not show the extra base hit pop that he had previously in the summer. All four hits were singles, but was 2-for-5 in the series opener and reached base twice in his last two games. Benson has been a bit of an ironman this season, but only played in four of six games at Reading; the first series since early June where he played in only four games. The added rest could help Benson down the stretch.
RHP Nic Enright: 0-1, 1 G, 0.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Enright was charged with the only loss of the series and it came in a brutal five-run fifth inning of a seven-inning Saturday contest. Enright got two outs and had a chance to get out of the inning with just one run on the board, but a pair of two-out base hits extended the inning and all told, five were charged to the former Virginia Tech Hokie.
8/17: vs Harrisburg (6:35 pm)
8/18: vs Harrisburg (6:35 pm)
8/19: vs Harrisburg (6:35 pm)
8/20: vs Harrisburg (7:05 pm)
8/21: vs Harrisburg (7:05 pm)
8/22: vs Harrisburg (2:05 pm)
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