Senators Chip Away but Fall Short, 6-3, to Akron
Isaac Ballou with two hits; Bullpen tosses five scoreless innings
The Harrisburg Senators chipped away, but ultimately spotted the Akron RubberDucks too large a cushion in their 6-3 loss on Saturday night in front of 5,783 fans at FNB Field. The defeat sets up a rubber match between the two squads in the last game before the Eastern League All-Star break.
Senators’ starter Phillips Valdez struggled with his control as the lithe right-hander walked seven batters in four innings. Valdez (2-2) worked out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning, but couldn’t repeat the feat in the third as Jordan Smith cleared the bases with a double. Two frames later, Nellie Rodriguez doubled the Akron lead with a three-run homer that chased Valdez from the game.
“He didn’t have much feel,” manager Matt LeCroy said about his starter. “He pitched out of some traffic. He just couldn’t throw it over.”
“If he attacks the zone, he’s pretty good. But the last couple of times he’s been off.”
Derek Self stemmed the tide with two innings of scoreless relief giving the Senators an opportunity to make up some ground. They broke through in the bottom of the sixth inning as Kevin Keyes, mired in a 2-for-27 slump, singled to drive in Wilmer Difo from second base. Catcher Spencer Kieboom followed with an RBI single of his own to cut the Akron lead to 6-2.
The Senators tacked on a run on Difo’s RBI groundout an inning later, but that was as close as the Senators would come. Relievers Nick Lee and Ryan Brinley kept the ‘Ducks off the scoreboard for the final three frames.
Isaac Ballou was the only Senator with two hits as the outfielder went 2-for-4. Ballou is now hitting .333 in his last 10 games.
“He’s a ballplayer,” LeCroy said. “His skillset is not overwhelming when you watch him play, but he just finds ways to get it done.”
“The organization has a little gem here. He plays the game the right way and you know what you’re going to get every time you put him in the lineup.”
Harrisburg concludes their series with the Akron RubberDucks on Sunday afternoon as the first 1,000 fans 12 and under through the gates will receive a Senators youth jersey. Greg Ross takes the hill at FNB Field opposed by D.J. Brown for the 1:30 p.m. start time. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 1:15 p.m.