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Aeros capture Eastern League title
Murata, Abraham help bring championship back to Akron
09/15/2012 11:34 PM ET
Akron celebrates after winning its fourth championship since 2003.
Akron celebrates after winning its fourth championship since 2003. (Rudy C. Jones/MiLB.com)

When Akron dropped the first two games of the Eastern League semifinals to Bowie, the thought of winning a fourth championship was a very distant one.

On Saturday night, the Aeros celebrated in Trenton.

Toru Murata allowed a run on three hits over a season-high 6 1/3 innings and Adam Abraham collected his eighth postseason RBI as the Indians' Double-A affiliate beat the Thunder, 6-1, to bring the title back to Akron.

"All of the guys have worked hard for this all year," Aeros second-year manager Chris Tremie said. "It's a great finish to the year, very exciting.

"It's been a great year all year long. To finish it up in the end with a championship is a great feeling. I'm very proud of them."

The championship is the team's second in four years and fourth since relocating to the Akron/Canton area in 1989. The Aeros also won titles in 2003, 2005 and 2009 after losing to Trenton in the Finals in 2007 and 2008.

Abraham opened the scoring with an RBI triple in the second inning, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Rohlinger to give Murata the only runs he needed.

"There was a guy on first and I was just looking for something I could hit hard," said Abraham, who was named Finals MVP. "It was a first-pitch fastball and I drove it to center field and Matt [Lawson] was able to score on it.

"I don't swing too often on the first pitch of my first [at-bat], but I was looking for it and I didn't miss it. Getting that first run is always important."

J.R. Murphy halved the Thunder's deficit with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning, but that was all the Yankees' affiliate managed against Murata.

The 27-year-old right-hander fanned seven, one shy of a season high, throwing 59 of 86 pitches for strikes. Murata (1-0), who was 3-2 with a 2.89 ERA across three levels during the regular season, hit a batter but retired 15 in a row at one point.

"He was very good," Tremie said. "He went deep into the game and he only gave up the one run on the home run. He was really solid."

"Toru has been very good for us the whole last month," Abraham added. "When he got moved to the starting rotation, he was going five, six, seven innings with no runs or one run. Tonight was no different. He gave up one run, and that was about it."

Akron tacked on a run in the fifth, then broke it open with three in the ninth.

Trenton loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth against closer Preston Guilmet, but Rob Segedin grounded a 1-2 pitch to second baseman Matt Lawson, who flipped to shortstop Davis Stoneburner to set off the celebration.

Akron posted the league's best regular-season record at 82-59, winning the Western Division by 4 1/2 games over Bowie. But the Baysox pushed the Aeros to the brink of elimination in the semifinals, winning the first two games of the best-of-5 series and taking a lead into the sixth inning in Game 3.

"It was simple," Tremie said of his message to the team after falling into an 0-2 series hole. "We talked about it and I told them the series is the best-of-5 and that it doesn't specify that you have to win the first one.

"We lost the first two, then we won three straight. We won one game at a time."

Akron remained perfect at home in the postseason by taking the first two games of the Championship Series, 3-0 and 7-5. The Thunder avoided the sweep with an 11-7 victory on Friday.

Trenton could not prolong its season a second time, however, as the Aeros won on the road for the first time in the playoffs.

"I was not expecting that [MVP award]," said Abraham, a 2008 13th-round Draft pick who batted .300 with three triples and eight RBIs in nine postseason games. "When my name was announced, I was surprised. All that hard work I have put in and that the team has put in paid off. I had some injuries, so it's nice to finish with a championship."

 

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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