Another first inning run is how the game started for the Curve as they were gifted a run thanks to a RubberDucks error. Gift Ngoepe doubled and stood at second base with two outs before Mel Rojas, Jr. came to the plate. Rojas hit a broken bat grounder to the left of the second-base bag that Francisco Lindor fielded. His throw to try and get Rojas went into the Curve dugout and allowed Ngoepe to trot home to put the Curve in front, 1-0.
A.J. Morris took over from there and pitched effectively over five shutout innings. He walked one (the first batter of the game), struck out three and scattered three hits as he left in line for his first win of the season.
The Curve had a prime opportunity to add an insurance run for Morris in the fifth. Keon Broxton beat out an infield single to start the inning and then stole second. Alen Hanson had a productive out and flew out to the right field corner that allowed Broxton to get to third. Ngoepe came to the plate and the Curve tried to rekindle some magic from earlier in the year by attempting a suicide squeeze. This time, however, it did not play out successfully. Broxton broke from third and Ngoepe’s bunt was popped up to ‘Ducks pitcher Cody Anderson. He then threw to third to complete the double play.
Despite the failed squeeze, the lead stuck until the seventh inning but then things to a turn. Brandon Mann (1-2) began the inning and gave up what appeared to be a routine single to right to Joe Wendle. Wendle was hustling out of the box and turned the routine single into a double with no one out. Bryson Myles followed and hit a ball near Hanson that ended up going off his glove on a backhand attempt and into left-center field.
Mann struck out Tony Wolters for the first out but then gave up the game-tying single to Jordan Smith. Now with runners at first and second, Alex Lavisky singled in front of Broxton in left. Myles was being sent home and Broxton came up gunning. It appeared that the throw and Myles were going to arrive simultaneously at the plate. However, the throw was cut off and Myles scored what proved to be the game-winning run.
Altoona’s bats went silent for much of the middle of the game for a second straight day. They didn’t have a hit after the fifth inning and had only one baserunner in Rojas, who walked with one out in the ninth, after the fifth. Rojas stood at third with two outs and Justin Howard at the plate as the Curve’s last hope but Howard struck out to end the game.
Back at .500, the Curve (10-10) and RubberDucks (11-11) will play the rubber match of the three game series in the Rubber City at 2:05 p.m. Sunday afternoon. RHP Adrian Sampson (3-1, 1.17), who hasn’t allowed a run in his last 12.1 innings, takes the ball for the Curve looking to lead them to a series win. He’ll be opposed by ‘Ducks RHP Joe Colon (0-2, 3.18) in the Sunday afternoon finale.
---Curve Communications Dept.
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