Brad Snyder is turning around his 2006 season at a most opportune time -- just as the Akron Aeros…
Aeros Advance, 5-2; Kinston Keeps Rolling
EASTERN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS Akron won the Southern Division of the Eastern League by 10 1/2 games over second-place Altoona, then eliminated the Curve in five games in the first round of the playoffs and will play the Portland Sea Dogs in a rematch of the 2005 finals. Portland eliminated Trenton in four games in the 2006 Northern Division series. The Aeros are seeking their third championship in four years. Akron took three of four from Portland to win it all last year and swept New Haven to win the title in 2003. The first two games of the finals are scheduled for Akron's Canal Park on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Pitching matchups will be announced, but Aeros manager Tim Bogar likely will open with ace right-hander Adam Miller and lefty Aaron Laffey, who won the first two games of the series against Altoona. Akron went 5-1 this year against the Sea Dogs, sweeping a three-game series at home in early August with Nick Pesco, Travis Foley and Aaron Laffey getting the wins by scores of 3-0, 9-4 and 6-2. A week later in Portland, the Aeros took two of three, losing the first game 9-7, then coming back to win, 5-1 and 1-0 in 10 innings in a classic. Sean Smith started that final game for Akron and allowed only two hits while fanning eight over eight innings. Tony Sipp struck out three over two perfect innings for the win. The run scored when Pat Osborn got a two-out walk, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Jared Sandberg -- only Akron's third hit of the game. Southern Division Final, Best of Five Akron Aeros (87-55) vs. Altoona Curve (75-64) Game 5, Sunday: at Akron 5, Altoona 2 (Aeros win series, 3-2) The Aeros got timely hitting from Brad Snyder and clutch relief work from Reid Santos and Jim Ed Warden to win. Trevor Crowe doubled to open the Aeros' first inning, was bunted to third by Brandon Pinckney and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Goleski. Snyder made it 4-0 in the fourth with a three-run homer. Pinckney singled, stole second with one out and went to third on a single by Brian Barton. Snyder, who had 18 homers in the regular season, then drove a pitch the opposite way over the left-field fence. Aeros starter Bear Bay gave up one run on four hits and three walks over four innings, striking out three. Reliever Tony Sipp got the win. He fanned four over two innings, giving up only one hit -- a sixth-inning homer that got Altoona within 4-2. Matt Davis, who spent most of the season as Class A Lake County's closer, came on to start the seventh and yielded two hits. Santos relieved with two on and two outs and got a strikeout to get out of the jam. In the Aeros' seventh, Pat Osborn singled with one out. He went to second on a balk, stole third and scored on Wyatt Toregas' two-out single to make it 5-2. Santos yielded two hits in the eighth and closer Warden got out of that jam by getting a popout on one pitch. Warden created his own jam in the ninth, yielding a leadoff single and then hitting a batter with a pitch. He then got two strikeouts and a groundout to earn his second save of the series. Game 4, Saturday: at Altoona 3, Akron 1 First baseman Ryan Mulhern had three of Akron's five hits. Snyder and Crowe each singled. Akron scored in the seventh. Goleski walked, went to third on a single by Mulhern and scored on a groundout by Snyder. Barton then walked and reliever Blaine Neal replaced Altoona starter Wardell Starling. Neal got Pat Osborn to ground into a force out and Ivan Ochoa to line out to second. Aeros starter Jensen Lewis allowed three runs (two earned) over 5 1/3 innings. Altoona scored twice in the first, helped by errors by Ochoa at shortstop and Mulhern at first base. Akron's Travis Foley worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Game 3, Friday: at Altoona 4, Akron 1 Crowe provided most of Akron's limited offense, going 3-for-5 with a stolen base and a run. He led of the sixth with a single, stole second and went to third on a throwing error on the play. Brandon Pinckney then singled him home. Akron failed to convert several scoring chances. Snyder tripled to open the seventh, but was out trying to score on a grounder by Osborn. In the eighth, Crowe tripled with one out, but Pinckney popped out to second, Goleski walked and Mulhern flied out. Snyder and Osborn struck out to open the ninth, but the Aeros loaded the bases on a single by Shaun Larkin and walks to Barton and pinch-hitter Jared Sandberg. Crowe grounded into a force play to end the game. Akron starter Sean Smith (10-5, 3.88 ERA in the regular season) allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander gave up three walks and five hits, including two homers, and struck out four. Sipp gave up a hit and struck out four over 1 2/3 innings and Santos yielded a run over one inning. Game 2, Thursday: at Akron 12, Altoona 0 Aaron Laffey, Foley and Sipp combined on the shutout. Laffey (8-3, 3.53 ERA in the regular season) struck out nine over six innings, allowing six hits without a walk. Foley walked three and gave up two hits but no runs over two innings and Sipp gave up one hit and struck out the side in the ninth. Barton hit a grand slam and Sandberg a three-run homer in the Aeros' big first inning. Crowe went 3-for-4 with three runs, a walk and a stolen base. Goleski had two hits, two runs and an RBI. Crowe singled to start the uprising and stole second. Pinckney walked and Goleski singled to load the bases. Barton struck out, but Snyder hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Crowe for a 1-0 lead. Then it really got interesting. Sandberg homered to center to make it 4-0. Osborn doubled and scored on a double by Ochoa, who scored on a single by Wyatt Toregas. Crowe doubled Toregas to third and Pinckney drew his second walk of the inning to reload the bases. Goleski walked to force home Toregas and make it 7-0 and Barton drove a pitch over the wall in center to make it 11-0. Snyder then singled before Sandberg was called out on strikes to end the rally. In the third, Crowe tripled and scored on a groundout by Pinckney. Game 1, Wednesday: at Akron 12, Altoona 10 Adam Miller (15-5, 2.75 ERA in the regular season) worked seven strong innings for the Aeros. The right-hander struck out five without a walk, giving up three runs and seven hits. He got plenty of offense as Mulhern and Ochoa each hit two-run homers and Osborn went 3-for-3 with two RBI. Snyder was 2-for-3 with three runs and an RBI, Crowe went 2-for-5 with two runs and Barton had a hit and scored twice. But Crowe, Ochoa, Snyder and Pinckney all made errors, too, enabling Altoona to get back into the game. Davis, who had 26 saves as Lake County's closer, gave up five runs in only 1 2/3 innings, though four of the runs were unearned. Santos failed to get an out and allowed three runs and two hits before Warden came on to get the final out for the save. CAROLINA LEAGUE PLAYOFFS Mills Cup Championship Series, Best of Five Kinston Indians (87-64) vs. (Frederick Keys (63-78) Kinston (47-23, 38-31) won the first half championship in the Southern Division, then finished second by seven games to Salem in the second half. The Indians compiled the best overall record in the league at 85-54, then ousted Salem in two games in the first round for their 11th Southern Division title in 20 years. Frederick defeated Wilmington in three games in the Northern Division series. Kinston lost in the finals in 2002, fell in the first round in 2003, won it all in 2004 and lost in the finals again last season. Game 2, Sunday: at Kinston 3, Frederick 2 (Kinston leads series, 2-0) Stephen Head went 2-for-2 with two walks and scored what turned out to be the winning run by ignoring manager Mike Sarbaugh's stop sign with some aggressive baserunning. Kinston loaded the bases in the fifth on a bloop single by Javier Herrera, walk to Head, and one-out single by Nate Panther, whose fourth-inning homer had put the K-Tribe ahead, 1-0. After Argenis Reyes struck out and with Jose Constanza at bat, Frederick pitcher Manny Basilio threw a wild pitch. Herrera raced home and crashed into the pitcher covering the plate to score. With those two yelling at one another, Head dove headfirst to score, too. Left-hander Mariano Gomez, who has bounced between Kinston and Akron for several years and was 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA during the 2006 regular season for the K-Tribe, allowed only two hits over five scoreless innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He gave up two hits and a run and was replaced by T.J. Burton, who yielded two more hits and allowed the inherited runner to score. Randy Newsom fanned four and allowed one walk over two innings in his second straight impressive relief outing. Kyle Collins gave up a hit, a walk, and got a strikeout in the ninth for his second save of the playoffs. Head, Panther and Argenis Reyes each had two of Kinston's seven hits. Game 1, Saturday: at Kinston 10, Frederick 4 League MVP Jordan Brown hit a two-run homer, Rodney Choy Foo had two hits, two runs, two RBI and a solo homer while Panther went 1-for-3 with two runs and two RBI to lead the Indians' offense. Joe Ness, 9-6, 3.62 ERA during the regular season, gave up two runs on five hits over the first five innings, striking out five. Scott Roehl allowed two runs over 1 1/3 innings, but got the win when Kinston rallied. Ryan Knippschild retired the only batter he faced and Newsom gave up one hit over the final 2 1/3 innings and earned a save. Game 3, Monday, Kinston at Frederick, 7:00 p m. LHP Chuck Lofgren (17-5, 2.32 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Ramirez (8-9, 4.23 ERA) If Necessary Game 4, Tuesday: Kinston at Frederick, 7:00 p.m. LHP Scott Lewis (3-3, 1.48 ERA) vs. TBA Game 5, Wednesday: at Frederick, 7:00 p.m. Pitchers TBA Southern Division Final, Best of Three Kinston Indians (85-64) vs. Salem Avalanche (76-61) Game 2, Thursday: at Kinston 6, Salem 0 (Indians win series, 2-0) Scott Lewis and J.D. Martin, two pitchers on limited pitch counts all season as they recover from arm surgeries, combined on a four-hitter. Lewis (3-3, 1.48 ERA in the regular season) struck out six and gave up three hits and one walk over six innings. Martin fanned five and allowed one hit over three innings and got a save. Jose Constanza went 3-for-4 with a run, RBI and two stolen bases and Stephen Head was 2-for-4 with two runs and a two-run homer to lead the offense. Carolina League MVP Jordan Brown went 1-for-3 with a run and RBI. Game 1, Wednesday: Kinston 9, at Salem 6 Left-hander Chuck Lofgren, pitched five scoreless innings and led 7-0 before yielding three runs (two earned) in the sixth. He gave up two hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five. Newsom worked 2 2/3 innings and also allowed three runs (two earned). Knippschild gave up a hit and got the first out in the ninth before Collins got a strikeout and the final two outs for the save. Panther, MVP of Akron's playoff run in 2005, went 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI while Brown was 2-for-4 with two runs. Reyes had two hits and three RBI, and Herrera went 1-for-5 with a run and two RBI.
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