FREDERICK, Md. – Spire City hit four home runs and salvaged its series with High Point by taking a 7-6 win in the finale on Sunday afternoon at Nymeo Field. High Point’s Ben Aklinski put on an offensive display of his own, collecting three hits of his own including two home runs and driving in four runs for the Rockers.
High Point had taken the first two games of the series. The Rockers continue to hold the best overall record in the Atlantic League at 68-36. High Point’s 27-14 second half record will keep the Rockers in first place in the South Division. Gastonia is 26-15 going into a Sunday game at Lancaster.
The Rockers had taken an early 5-1 lead and held a 5-3 advtage when starting pitcher Neil Ramirez walked off the mound with one out in the bottom of the fourth and a 2-0 count on Kole Cottam with what appeared to be an arm injury. Jheyson Manzueta came in to pitch and allowed a walk to Cottom, a double to Steven Brault and a two-run single to Chris Shaw that tied the game at 5-5.
Aklinski smashed his second homer of the game with two outs in the fifth, a solo shot, to put the Rockers back on top at 6-5. Spire City’s Leobaldo Cabrera homered off Austin Ross in the seventh to re-tie the game at 6-6.
With Kyle Halbohn (L, 2-1) on the mound for the Rockers in the eighth, Cabrera singled home Osvaldo Abreu to take a 7-6 lead. Spire City’s Dovydas Neveauskas put the Rockers down in order in the ninth to secure his fifth save of the year. Former Rocker Max Povse (W, 2-2) pitched the eighth inning and struck out two. Spire City’s bullpen set down the last 12 Rockers in order as the Rockers could not manage a baserunner after Ryan Grotjohn’s leadoff walk in the sixth.
D.J. Burt drew a walk in the top of the first to extend his Atlantic League record to 59 consecutive games reaching base. Aklinski followed immediately with his 19th homer of the year to stake the Rockers to a 2-0 lead.
Brault hit a solo homer in the second off Ramirez to cut the deficit in half to 2-1. Brault was four-for-four on the day with two doubles, a homer and an RBI while scoring two runs.
In the third, Aklinski stroked a double into the gap in right-center, allowing Burt to score after he had reached base when he was hit by a pitch from Ghost Hounds starter Matt Reitz. Grotjhohn then homered to score Aklinski ahead of him and give the Rockers a 5-1 lead. Spire City answered in the bottom of the third as Abreu and Craig Dedelow each hit a solo homer to make it a 5-3 game.
The Rockers will enjoy a day off on Monday and then drive to Waldorf, Md. to start a three-game series at Southern Maryland on Tuesday. The Rockers return home for their final homestand of the regular season on Friday, Sept. 1 against the York Revolution.
NOTES: Ben Aklinski became the first Rocker to reach the 20-20- Club with 20 homers and 28 stolen bases… He is the first Rocker to achieve a 20-20 season.