Despite the hot way the Akron RubberDucks players were introduced in the opening game of the 2017 season, the ‘Ducks saw their opener get spoiled as the Bowie Baysox brought their hitting shoes and squared up on Akron pitching to claim a 13-7 victory in a game cut short by snow. The contest only lasted seven and a half innings and had to be called once the snow became too heavy to see through.
Right-hander Julian Merryweather took the bump as the starting pitcher and quickly went to work when Baysox center fielder Cedric Mullins blasted a deep fly ball over the wall in right field for a leadoff home run. The right-hander struggled to find his command and only lasted two innings as Baysox hitters keyed in on his pitches and ended up scoring five runs off him. His final line was just 2 IP, 5 H, 5 R/ER, 2 BB and 1 SO.
“Just a little up in the zone,” he admitted. “The good thing I was able to figure out what I was doing mechanically wrong - so there’s a little silver lining in that; failing but knowing why you’re failing - so I’m hoping it’s gonna be a quick fix and I can get back on track.”
Akron batters had trouble getting contact early against Baysox righty Brandon Barker. He held the Akron lineup scoreless over the first two innings. It wasn’t until the third inning that the ‘Ducks finally broke through. Barker all of a sudden had trouble finding the plate and ended up loading the bases with no outs. The RubberDucks put a few hits together and were able to register a crooked number and move within 7-4 to the Baysox.
Bowie quickly regained control of the game as batters began to barrel up on pitches off the hand of right-handed swingman D.J. Brown. Brown left a lot of pitches over the plate and the Baysox did the same thing to him as they did to Merryweather. Brown finished with a line of 3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, and 5 SO. Not only did he struggle, but the RubberDucks made four errors on the night and helped gift the Baysox a couple of runs. By the time the fifth inning was over, the RubberDucks were staring at an 11-4 deficit.
Akron was able to cut into the lead in the seventh inning when catcher Francisco Mejia led off with an opposite-field double. It was his second double of the night and was followed by a walk from slugger Bobby Bradley. Shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang capped things off by launching a towering shot off the batter’s eye in center field to push Akron back within 13-7 in the seventh inning. Not soon after, the game was called as the snow was coming down in a flurry.
“I’m proud of the guys for grinding it out. It was a tough night for both teams,” noted manager Mark Budzinski.
Pitching Log: Julian Merryweather
2 IP: 55 pitches (32 strikes)
It wasn’t the start anyone had hoped for from Merryweather. He just was not sharp from the onset and the Baysox took full advantage. He had trouble throwing consistent strikes and left far too many pitches over the plate. There seemed to be little deception in his pitches as he struggled to put away batters once he got them to two strikes in the count.
Chang shines in Double-A debut
It was a rough night in general for the RubberDucks, but for Chang, it was a solid debut. He finished the night going 2-for-3 at the plate with one walk. He hit a two-run double in the fourth inning where the ‘Ducks scored four runs, and then had his three-run blast in the seventh inning. He ended up having five RBIs on the night.
“He hit the ball hard with runners in scoring position - so that’s good to see. One through the middle of the field for a home run and he’s got some pop in his bat,” the Akron manager observed.