The first-place Akron RubberDucks had an opportunity to widen the gap on their opposition last week versus the Richmond Flying Squirrels, but were unable to do so after drawing a 3-3 series split. Other teams still in the mix in the AA-Northeast League caught fire at the right time, with all of them going on massive winning streaks. The Somerset Patriots have taken eight in a row, while the Bowie BaySox and Portland SeaWolves have been victorious in seven consecutive games. The top two teams in the league will play for the 2021 league championship in a five-game set.
AA Northeast League Standings:
- Akron RubberDucks: 70-43 (-)
- Somerset Patriots: 69-44 (1 GB)
- Bowie BaySox: 68-45 (2 GB)
- Portland Sea Dogs: 63-45 (4.5 GB)
What makes the playoff race even more interesting is the RubberDucks and Patriots will play on another this week at Canal Park. The BaySox will host the Altoona Curve for their final six games, while the Sea Dogs will host the last-place Hartford Yard Goats. Portland throws a wrench into the mix after having multiple games cancelled in the last two weeks due to COVID-19.
Last week, the RubberDucks and Flying Squirrels alternated wins in every game of the series. The highlight of the week came in the 11-7 victory where eight of nine participating batters recorded a base hit in the contest. A pair of 5-1 victories also showcased the dominance this Akron pitching staff can have as a unit. Unfortunately after the big week two weeks ago, pitchers Peyton Battenfield and Konnor Pilkington were saddled with their first losses in Akron uniforms this week.
9/7: W 5-1 @ Richmond; W: Ben Krauth (2-1), L: Michael Plassmeyer (2-8)
9/8: L 3-1 @ Richmond; W: Gerson Garabito (3-3), L: Peyton Battenfield (2-1), S: Joey Merciano (4)
9/9: W 11-7 @ Richmond; W: Aaron Pinto (3-1), L: Matt Frisbee (5-3)
9/10: L 15-5 @ Richmond; W: Matt Seelinger (3-1), L: Konnor Pilkington (3-1)
9/11: W 5-1 @ Richmond; W: Thomas Ponticelli (7-5), L: Trenton Toplikar (2-7)
9/12: L 10-4 @ Richmond; W: Michael Plassmeyer (3-8), L: Joey Cantillo (0-1)
Player of the Week
SS Brayan Rocchio: 10-27 (.370), 5 R, 2 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 SB, 1.026 OPS
Rocchio was honored as the AA-Northeast League Player of the Week award for his performances in Richmond this week, and rightfully so. Rocchio recorded a hit in all six games versus the Flying Squirrels, highlighted by a three-hit game in the series finale. He tied Victor Nova for most runs scored and tied Jose Fermin for the team lead in extra base hits. Rocchio has found a natural fit at the top of the lineup in Akron and he is quickly making his way through the minor league ranks. He is an interesting name to watch out for in a loaded organizational middle infield.
CF Will Brennan: 8-25 (.320), 2 RBIs, 3 BBs
The left-handed swinging Will Brennan was 3-for-5 in the opening game of the series and had a hit in five of six games. There were no extra base hits this week for Brennan, but consistency has come all season long. In the month of September, Brennan is batting .325 and has walked seven times in 11 games.
SS: Jose Fermin: 7-22 (.318), 3 R, 3 2Bs, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, .909 OPS
Fermin was a menace at the plate, and had almost the opposite approach as Brennan. Four of his seven hits were extra base hits, with three doubles and a homerun. The longball would be a solo shot in the 11-7 victory as Fermin drove in a run in four of his five games played. Since being returned to Akron from Columbus, Fermin has made a huge impact in the heart of the order.
RF George Valera: 7-22 (.318), 2 R, 2 2Bs, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BBs
In a week where the RBIs were fairly evenly distributed, Valera stood out with a team-high six runs batted in. Just like Rocchio, Valera also notched a base hit in each of the six games this week. In the September 11 victory, Valera hit a solo homerun to break the scoreless tie and later provided an insurance run via a sacrifice fly. Valera contributed with a multi-hit game in the series finale.
LHP Logan Allen: 1 GS, 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BBs, 7 Ks
It was the second straight start for Allen without allowing a run, but a high pitch count prevented him from going long enough to get his second consecutive win. Allen looked a little shaky in the first, but got out of a bases loaded jam to keep the Flying Squirrels off the board. From there, he retired six in a row with three punchouts. Allen made it six starts in a row with six or more K’s on Tuesday, but was eventually relieved after allowing two baserunners in the fifth. Overall, another solid outing from the lefty.
LHP Jake Miednik: 2 G, 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 Ks, .111 BAA
Miednik was a key bullpen member for the RubberDucks in a pair of close games. He was called upon to get the final out in the eighth inning of a two-run game that Akron would go on to lose 3-1. Miednik would be called upon for a long relief role in Saturday’s 5-1 win. He pitched 2.2 innings for his ninth hold of the year, striking out four along the way.
RHP: Nick Mikolajchak: 2 G, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 Ks
Mikolajchak was called upon for two two-inning relief appearances, and both times Richmond was held scoreless against the hard-throwing right-hander. He allowed three baserunners of the week in his first outing, but threw a perfect two frames in the series finale.
CF Clark Scolamiero: 1-10 (.100), 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 CS
Scolamerio did not have much go well for him at the plate this week, but he was still able to score once and drove home a run. The most surprising aspect of his week was taking the mound on Sunday in a 10-4 game. Scolamerio threw a 1-2-3 inning and recorded a strikeout.
LHP Skylar Arias: 2 G, 0.1 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 4 BBs, 0 Ks, 24.00 WHIP
Arias made two appearances, and was only able to get one out total. Arias walked two, surrendered a three-run homerun and double before exiting on Friday, with all four coming around to score. In a bullpen game Sunday, Arias entered in the second inning and after the first batter popped out, Arias allowed two more walks and two more hits as two runs scored before he was relieved.
9/14: vs Somerset (11:05 am)
9/15: vs Somerset (6:35 pm)
9/16: vs Somerset (6:35 pm)
9/17: vs Somerset (7:05 pm)
9/18: vs Somerset (7:05 pm)
9/19: vs Somerset (2:05 pm)