Rickles’ HR Walks Off Akron; Senators Win 6-4
Ross delivers another solid start; Simms tosses three scoreless for the win
Nick Rickles delivered the walk-off two-run home run in the 12th inning to give the Harrisburg Senators a 6-4 victory over the Akron RubberDucks in a series-clinching victory in front of 3,945 fans at FNB Field. The contest was the final game before the All-Star break as the Senators finished the first-half of the season with a record of 47-41.
“Isaac (Ballou) did a great job getting him (Ward) over, so with a runner on second base I’m looking to get something into the outfield to score the run. He just left the ball up in the zone and I put a good swing on it,” Rickles said.
“I feed off our pitching staff a little bit,” the catcher continued pointing to the pressure innings logged by Andrew Robinson and John Simms. “I was impressed with the way we handled things. When the time came, everybody did what they were supposed to. It was a great team win.”
The Senators scored early against Ducks starter D.J. Brown as Neftali Soto plated Rafael Bautista with an RBI fielder’s choice in the first inning. In the second, Harrisburg increased their lead to 2-0 with an improbable inside-the-park home run from Shawn Pleffner. The designated hitter laced a ball into dead-center that forced Akron center-fielder Bradley Zimmer to leap into the wall. As Zimmer lay motionless on the warning track, Pleffner raced all the way around the bases scoring just before the ball arrived at home.
Harrisburg added single runs in the middle innings as Isaac Ballou tagged a solo home run, his third of the season, and Bautista drove in Pleffner with an RBI single. Akron evened the game in the eighth inning off reliever Abel De Los Santos. The 23-year-old right-hander issued a lead-off walk that came back to bite him as the Ducks cashed in with two outs as Nellie Rodriguez doubled and Jeremy Lucas blasted a game-tying homer.
With Akron threatening in the ninth inning with runners on second and third base and no outs, reliever Robinson worked out of the jam by striking out the side to keep the game deadlocked at 4. Harrisburg also had an opportunity in the bottom half of the frame as the Senators loaded the bases before Rickles flared a line drive corralled by right-fielder Jordan Smith to end the threat.
“That’s a huge, huge game for us to win going into the break,” manager Matt LeCroy said.
Ross scattered six hits over seven innings while striking out four in the no decision. The lone Akron run scored off of the right-hander was a solo home run from Joe Sever in the top of the seventh. Ross has now allowed only three earned runs in 48 innings with Harrisburg this season.
“He’s mixing all three pitches for strikes. He has something to go to when he’s falling behind,” LeCroy said about Ross who now sports a 0.56 ERA with Harrisburg. “You never know with pitchers. Look at Tanner Roark or Kyle Lohse. All of a sudden they figure it out.”
“He’s done really good for him, for our team, and our organization finding a guy like that. He’s been a big lift for us.”
Simms worked three scoreless innings in relief to earn his fifth victory of the season.
Harrisburg sends Tyler Mapes, Robinson, and Soto to Akron for the Eastern League All-Star Game held on Wednesday evening at 7:05 p.m. The Senators will return to action on Thursday night in Altoona as they take on the Curve at 7:00 p.m. from Peoples Natural Gas Field. 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 6:45 p.m.