AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron (8-10, 1-0 MAC) baseball team opened Mid-American Conference play with a 6-3 victory over Eastern Michigan University (8-9, 0-1 MAC) on Friday afternoon at Lee R. Jackson Field in UA's home opener.
Sophomore John Valek III made the start for Akron, tossing 4.2 innings with two earned runs, two strikeouts and two walks. Valek III was given a no-decision in the win.
Akron and Eastern Michigan traded scoreless frames through the first and second innings, until UA broke the scoreless tie with a four-run rally in the bottom of the third. Redshirt senior James Sheltrown scored on an error by the EMU catcher to start the scoring effort, which was immediately followed by freshman Brian Lees with a two-RBI double to left.
Freshman Dom Iero capped off the four-run rally with an RBI groundout to third, scoring Brady Stewart and giving Akron a 4-0 advantage. However, EMU would cut the Akron lead to 4-3 with two runs in the fourth and one run in the fifth.
Akron reliever Masashi Sakamoto took over on the mound with two out in the fifth inning, and induced an immediate groundout to end an Eastern Michigan bases-loaded opportunity.
The Zips added one run in the seventh and eighth inning, respectively. Stewart lifted a sac fly to center to score Kris Simonton in the seventh, which was followed by Sheltrown with his own sacrifice fly out to plate Iero.
Sakamoto worked a scoreless ninth inning to secure the Akron victory, and notch his first collegiate win. He finished the game with 4.1 scoreless innings on the mound with two hits allowed. In 13.1 innings this season, Sakamoto has allowed just one run, giving him a 0.67 ERA.
Overall, the Akron offense totaled eight base hits, four walks and five RBI. Simonton led the way with three hits and two runs scored. Lees had a team-high two RBI, while fellow freshman Iero collected two base hits. Ahart drew a team-high two walks in the victory.
Akron will play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m., against Eastern Michigan on Lee Jackson Field to finalize the three-game series. JT Brubaker is scheduled to start game one, with Myles McVeigh slated for game two. Live stats and a video stream will be available through GoZips.com.