Josh Rodriguez ... a game-winning homer in ninth.
The Kinston Indians and Akron Aeros are both tied in their respective playoff series -- taking different routes to get there. Kinston edged the Salem Avalanche, 1-0, Thursday night to tie the best-of-three Southern Division Final of the Class A Carolina League at one game apiece. Akron lost at Erie, 9-6, to drop into a 1-1 tie in the best-of-five Class AA Eastern League Southern Division Final.
Josh Rodriguez broke a scoreless tie with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give Kinston the win, one night after dropping the opening game, 10-3.
Kinston, seeking to defend its Carolina League title, swept both halves of the regular season. That meant the K-Tribe would host all three games of this series and the deciding game will be played Friday night at Grainger Stadium. Right-hander Sung-Wei Tseng will start for Kinston, which will try to advance to the Mills Cup Finals against Frederick, which eliminated Wilmington in two games. The Keys won the opener on the road, 9-2, Wednesday night and triumphed a home Thursday, 3-1.
Kinston reliever Erik Stiller allowed one hit and struck out two over the final two innings to earn the win. K-Tribe starter Frank Herrmann fanned five and allowed six hits over seven scoreless innings.
Salem starter Polin Trinidad struck out seven over seven innings and allowed only three singles -- to Wes Hodges and Armando Camacaro in the second inning and to Brian Finegan leading off the sixth.
Raymar Diaz came on in the eighth and got three quick outs, two on strikeouts. He retired Jose Constanza on a groundout in the ninth before Rodriguez homered over the left-field wall to win it.
At Erie, Aeros starter Jake Dittler was hit hard by the SeaWolves, who accumulated all nine of their runs and eight hits in only four innings off the right-hander. Dittler walked five and struck out three.
Erie took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but the Aeros tied it in the second, helped by an error from second baseman William Rhymes and a wild pitch by Burke Badenhop.
One run scored on a force-out grounder by Wyatt Toregas, Argenis Reyes had an RBI double, and he scored on a single by Trevor Crowe.
Trailing, 4-3, the Aeros scored three times in the fourth to take a 6-4 lead. This time, they were helped by two errors.
Toregas drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly and Crowe hit a two-run homer for a two-run lead.
But Dittler gave it all back -- and more -- in the bottom half, by issuing a bases-loaded walk followed by a grand slam.
Games 3 and 4 will be played Friday and Saturday night at Akron's Canal Park. Left-hander Jeremy Sowers, who opened the season in the Cleveland Indians' rotation and was just sent down to Akron from Triple-A Buffalo, will start Game 3 for the Aeros.
The winner of the series will advance to the Eastern League finals to face the winner of the Northern Division Championship Series between Trenton and Portland.