Haase's walk-off sends 'Ducks to EL Finals

Pasquale, Head combine for one-hit shutout in 10-inning clincher

Nick Pasquale takes a shower after the RubberDucks advance to the championship. (David Monseur/MiLB.com)

By Michael Leboff / MiLB.com | September 11, 2016 10:04 PM

Akron's third hit was the charm Sunday night.

Designated hitter Eric Haase backed up an eight-inning, one-hit gem by Nick Pasquale with a walk-off single in the 10th inning to send the Double-A RubberDucks to the Eastern League Finals with a 1-0 win over the Curve at Canal Park.

Both Pasquale and Pirates' No. 19 prospect Brandon Waddell were on their game from the first pitch as neither hurler allowed a hit until Altoona catcher Jin-De Jhang singled to center in the fifth frame. 

Waddell had his no-hit bid broken up in the bottom half of the inning when Indians' No. 26 prospect Mike Papi singled to left. 

"It was one of the best pitched games that I've ever watched, Minor Leagues, Major Leagues, playoffs, regular season it doesn't matter," Akron manager Dave Wallace said. "It was really impressive what Nick and Brandon were able to do out there."

Pasquale continued to dominate through the eighth. Then righty Louis Head (1-0) came in and twirled two innings of perfect relief. 

"That's a pretty tough situation to come into," Wallace said of his reliever. "I think the tendency is that you try to be perfect and that you can't give up anything because of the way the game had gone and the fact that Nick practically didn't give up anything. Louis didn't do that. He was himself. I'm really proud of him and how he came in to keep the game scoreless until we were able to come through for him."

Akron's bats awoke in the 10th. Papi set the stage for Haase's heroics with a one-out double to right. 

"It was tough all night and hits were tough to come by," Wallace said. "[Papi] played a great series, and when he came through with that double, we really felt like it was a great opportunity to end it and felt confident in Haase coming up behind him. We were very fortunate that he was able to get the job done."

Haase fell behind Altoona reliever Brett McKinney, 1-2, but jumped on a pitch on the inner half of the plate and pulled it through the hole between third base and shortstop to plate the game's lone run. 

Akron will meet Trenton, which dispatched Reading in the other semifinals, in the Eastern League Finals. Game 1 is scheduled for Tuesday at Canal Park. The RubberDucks took their season series with the Thunder, 8-6, including a three-game sweep in New Jersey in August.

"It's going to be a real fun series. It's been fun playing them all season," Wallace said. "They are a solid team with some really solid arms, not just in the rotation but in the bullpen as well. They've got a dangerous lineup with some speed and some power and they're really well coached. I'm not surprised to see them in the Finals."

Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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