John Drennen hit two more home runs to help the Akron Aeros finish off a fabulous regular season with a 9-3 win over Erie at Canal Park. Drennen hit four homers in the last three regular season games. The Aeros, champions of the Southern Division of the Eastern League closed with eight consecutive triumphs and an 89-53 record, the second-most wins in franchise history. The 2002 Aeros won 93 games.
Akron will play the Reading Phillies in the first round of the playoffs. The first two games of the best-of-five series are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday nights at Canal Park, both starting at 7:05.
Reading would host Game 3 on Friday night and a fourth game, if necessary, on Saturday.
If a fifth game is needed, it would be played at Canal Park on Sunday at 7:05 p.m.
The Aeros go into the playoffs boasting the league's Manager of the Year in Mike Sarbaugh, Pitcher of the Year in right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, and Most Valuable Player in catcher Carlos Santana.
Josh Tomlin (14-9), who led the Eastern League in wins, is scheduled to start the first game for Akron against Reading's Mike Stutes (8-8).
Drennen could play a key role in the series. The outfielder turned age 23 on Aug. 26 and has been celebrating nearly every night since. In his past three games, he has hit .583 (7-for-12) with four homers, six runs and five RBI.
Until his recent surge, Drennen had been a disappointment to the Cleveland Indians, who made him the 33rd overall pick in the 2005 draft out of high school in San Diego.
Drennen hit only .235 a year ago at Class A Kinston and went back to the Carolina League to start the 2009 season. He hit .270 in 17 games, but without a homer and only five RBI, but was promoted to Double-A Akron anyway.
In 93 games with the Aeros, he batted .274 with eight homers and 40 RBI -- still not eye-popping numbers, but better production from a player the organization expected to be an offensive force when they drafted him.
Two of Akron's big offensive players finished strong. Santana (.290), hit his 23rd homer, a two-run shot that gave him 97 RBI. Matt McBride (.247) went 3-for-4 with an RBI. The outfielder-first baseman finished with 18 homers, 99 RBI and a .287 average in 129 games overall between Kinston and the Aeros.
Scott Barnes (2-2, 5.68 ERA) struck out nine over six innings to get the win. The lefty, acquired in July from San Francisco in a trade for veteran first baseman Ryan Garko, gave up five hits, two walks and one earned run in his final tuneup for the playoffs.
Barnes finished his regular season 14-5 with a 3.41 ERA overall in 27 starts between the two organizations. In 142 2-3 innings, he struck out 138 this year.