Josh Rodriguez's first homer of the year, a three-run shot in the ninth inning, gave the Akron Aeros a 7-6 win over the Connecticut Defenders in Game 2 of the best-of-5 Eastern League Finals on Wednesday night.
Akron, which has won a franchise-record 13 consecutive games, owns a commanding 2-0 edge in the series and can win its first championship since 2005 with a victory in Game 3 on Friday.
Rodriguez connected with two outs and two on against reliever Matt Yourkin to snap a 4-4 deadlock. The Defenders answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth but left the tying run on third when Josh Judy struck out Tyler LaTorre to end the game.
Akron scored three times in the third and led for much of the game before Connecticut surged in front in the seventh. Jerad Head fell a homer shy of the cycle, scored three times and knocked in a run and top prospect Carlos Santana went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Jeanmar Gomez held the Defenders to two runs on six hits, including a homer, and three walks over five innings. The right-hander struck out five.
Zach Putnam (1-0) allowed an inherited runner to score but picked up the win, striking out two over two frames.
Defenders starter Daryl Maday was charged with three runs on five hits and a walk over 5 1/3 innings. Yourkin (0-1) surrendered three runs in the ninth and suffered the loss.
Former fifth-round pick Mike McBryde went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Brett Pill slugged his first postseason homer in the fifth off Gomez.
Eric Berger (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to pitch Akron to the championship on Friday in Game 3. Connecticut counters with southpaw Craig Clark (0-1, 5.40 ERA).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.