Altoona, PA - Akron righthander Jordan Cooper tossed three scoreless innings in his Double-A debut Wednesday night, helping the Akron Aeros to a 5-4 victory over the Altoona Curve at People's Natural Gas Field.
Cooper, who was called up from Class-A Carolina on Monday, was forced into action unexpectedly when fellow newcomer and Akron starter Mike Rayl left the game before the fifth inning due to tightness in his left elbow.
Inheriting a 3-2 lead, Cooper (1-0) gave up a hit to Altoona's Charlie Cutler, but induced a double-play grounder from the next hitter. After that, he allowed only a harmless walk over the next three innings. Cooper recorded three strikeouts.
A former Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year at Wichita State, Cooper made four starts at Carolina, going 1-2, 2.19. He was promoted to Akron Monday along with catcher b, who also made his first appearance Wednesday, starting behind the plate. Lowery, himself a former first team All-American at James Madison, collected three hits in his Double-A debut, including two doubles.
Rayl, a 24-year-old lefty, was making his first start of the season after starting the year on the disabled list. He worked the first four innings allowing two runs on five hits. Rayl came out to warm up for the fifth inning, but soon motioned for pitching coach Greg Hibbard and trainer Chad Wolfe. Upon examination, Rayl was lifted from the game, and Cooper had to heat up on short notice.
The Aeros scored three times in the third off Casey Sadler (3-2), erasing an early 1-0 deficit. The Curve helped with three errors. Lowery led off with a double, followed by a walk to Jose Ramirez. Lowery advanced to third on a fly ball to center, and then scored on a dropped pick-off throw by first baseman Andrew Lambo. Ramirez advanced to third. Chun Chen was then hit by a pitch, placing runners on the corners.
Chen stole second but the throw to second from Cutler was off the mark for an error, allowing Ramirez to score and make it 2-1. The throw to the plate from second baseman Jarek Cunningham skipped past Cutler allowing Chen to advance to third. The next hitter, Quincy Latimore, socked a double to drive Chen home for a 3-1 lead.
Chen made it 5-1 in the seventh with a two-run homer off Sadler to make it 5-1. It was his fourth of the year.
Cooper gave way to Bryce Stowell in the eighth. Stowell allowed a run in the eighth to make it 5-3, and then surrendered a one-out double to Cunningham in the ninth. Alex Dickerson lined an RBI single to right to make it 5-4, but Stowell rose to the occasion with back-to-back strikeouts to secure his second save.
Lowery and Tyler Holt each had three hits for the Aeros, who assured themselves of a winning road trip. Chen reached base three times, and raised his average to .350 on the season.
Now 4-2 on the road trip, the Aeros (12-14) will play the series and road trip wrap-up against the Curve on Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. RHP Danny Salazar (1-3, 3.57) will start for the Aeros, while RHP Jameson Taillon (2-2, 3.03) will get the starting nod for the Curve. The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1350 AM, and online at www.sportsradio1350.com. For more information, please call the Aeros at 330-253-5151 or follow them on Twitter at @AkronAeros and on Facebook at facebook.com/TheAkronAeros.