Espinal walks ‘Cats to second Akron win

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Santiago Espinal (credit – Andrew Sylvia)

AKRON, Ohio – A bases-loaded walk by Santiago Espinal provided closure on Wednesday afternoon as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats defeated the Akron Rubber Ducks, 3-2.

Like Tuesday’s contest between these two teams, the pitching proved itself throughout much of the day.

Akron broke through with a pair of runs in the fourth, beginning with an Alex Call RBI double that brought Connor Marabell home followed by Mitch Longo’s RBI single that brought Call across the plate.

Espinal’s RBI single in the fifth put the Fisher Cats within one, but that would be all they’d get off Akron starter Sam Hentges, who scattered five hits in five innings of work, striking out nine Fisher Cats in the process.

Chad Spanberger’s leadoff double off Robert Broom helped finally sow the seeds for victory in the ninth, with Broom leaving one at-bat later. Henry Martinez entered in place of Broom, and immediately allowed four walks in the next five at-bats, bringing in the two runs New Hampshire needed.

Although Dany Jimenez started the bottom of the ninth with a walk against Call, he then retired the next three batters to earn his first save of the year.

Like Hentges, Justin Dillon also had a quality start for the ‘Cats, pitching six strong innings, but the win went to recent callup Brad Wilson, who held Akron in check in the seventh and eighth.

The loss was assigned to Martinez, his first in Eastern League play this year.

Espinal and Wall collected two hits each for New Hampshire while Gianpaul Gonzalez went 2-for-3 for Akron.

New Hampshire looks for the sweep on Wednesday starting at 12:05 p.m. as they send out Hector Perez (7-4, 4.53 ERA) against Akron’s Jake Paulson (8-7, 3.96 ERA)