Akron wins Finals on Bo Naylor's walk-off hit

September 25th, 2021

Bottom of the ninth. Bases loaded. Two outs. Game tied. The moment couldn’t have been any more scripted for .

All Cleveland’s No. 6 prospect needed was a single to complete the storybook ending, and he did just that, lining a ball over the first baseman’s head to secure Akron’s sweep of Bowie in the Double-A Northeast Finals with a 6-5 win on Friday at Canal Park.

After taking the first two games of the Championship Series on the road, the RubberDucks returned home with the chance to clinch their first league title since 2016. It was a pitchers' duel for the first four innings until Bowie struck first, plating two runs in the top of the fifth on a fielding error. The Orioles affiliate would tack on three more for a 5-0 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, , one of the heroes for Akron in its clinching game over Somerset on Sept. 19, started the rally with an 11-pitch walk before No. 13 prospect and No. 2 prospect both singled to put three RubberDucks on the pond with one out. chopped a ball to second, but a throwing error allowed Fermin and Lavadista to score. After Naylor struck out, No. 12 prospect Jose Tena poked a two-run single to right, and suddenly it was a 5-4 game heading into the ninth.

Reliever Manuel Alvarez worked around two walks to hold Bowie scoreless in the top of the inning before changed the game with a homer to lead off the bottom of the frame, his first long ball since Aug. 19.

Seventh-ranked prospect walked, and Lavadista and Valera were intentionally walked after getting ahead in the count. Engelmann struck out, bringing Naylor to the plate with the winning run 90 feet away. Two pitches later, Akron became a league champion.

Drew Rom, Baltimore’s 25th-ranked prospect, hurled five strong innings for the Baysox, allowing five hits, no runs and no walks while fanning seven. RubberDucks starter tied his season-high in strikeouts with nine across five one-hit frames, walking four and surrendering two unearned runs.