John Drennen hit another homer, Jerad Head had four RBI, and Josh Tomlin struck out eight over seven innings to help Akron defeat Reading 9-4 in Game 1 of the Eastern League playoffs. Game 2 of the best-of-five series is set for 7:05 tonight at Canal Park. Akron right-hander Jeanmar Gomez (10-4, 3.43 ERA), the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year, will face left-hander Yohan Flande (4-4, 4.58 ERA).
Josh Judy got the final out of the eighth inning with a runner on third to preserve a 6-4 lead and worked a perfect ninth to earn the save.
Akron rolled to the regular season title in the Southern Division, but trailed 2-0 early.
Tomlin, who had a league-leading 14 wins, yielded three straight one-out singles to load the bases, then got the next batter to ground to first baseman Beau Mills. His throw to second forced one runner, but shortstop Carlos Rivero's return throw seeking an inning-ending double play was wild -- allowing two runs to score.
Akron got within 2-1 in the third. Jose Constanza singled with two out and scored on a double by Josh Rodriguez.
An error helped the Aeros take the lead in the fourth. Mills singled and went to second as Matt McBride reached on an error. After Lonnie Chisenhall and Rivero both lined out, Drennen reached on an infield single to load the bases.
Head lined a double to center to score them all for a 4-2 lead.
Drennen, who hit four homers in the season's final three games, made it 6-2 with a two-run shot in the sixth. Chisenhall doubled and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Rivero before Drennen homered to center.
Reading scored twice in the eighth off Aeros reliever Steven Wright to get within 6-4, but Akron added three runs to its total in the bottom half.
McBride singled and went all the way to third when the catcher fielded a sac bunt by Chisenhall and threw wildly. With runners on first and third, Rivero singled home one run and sent Chisenhall to third while moving to second on the throw.
Drennen grounded out, but Head hit a sacrifice fly to score Chisenhall and Constanza's infield hit scored Rivero.
Tomlin gave up three hits without a walk. Only one of the two runs he allowed in the second inning were earned.