The Curve kept their first-inning scoring prowess intact on Friday night, scoring two early runs in the first inning in support of starter Joely Rodriguez. With one out, ‘Ducks starter Gabriel Arias (2-2) walked Gift Ngoepe and Stetson Allie to put two on. Mel Rojas, Jr. followed and cleared the bases with a triple to the gap in left-center and the Curve led, 2-0.
Rodriguez (1-2) faced the minimum in the first with some help from Elias Diaz, who threw out Francisco Lindor trying to steal with one away. In the second, the Curve once again made Arias pay for his free passes. This time, he hit Jarek Cunningham and walked Keon Broxton with one away. Alen Hanson popped out for the inning’s second out but Ngoepe mashed a double off the wall in right to score both Cunningham and Broxton to increase the lead to, 4-0.
It was nearly smooth sailing from there for Rodriguez, who didn’t really run into trouble until the sixth. The southpaw permitted a pair of runs (one earned) but was able to work out of the jam and finish the inning. It was a nice bounce-back start for Rodriguez, who was coming off of a pair of tough starts vs. Richmond.
Akron made things interesting in the eighth when they pulled within one run after an RBI triple by Tyler Naquin. The Curve offense, which had gone silent since the second inning in large part to Duke von Schamann, woke up in the ninth.
With one out, Diaz singled by Lindor and into left-center before Justin Howard smoked a screamer to right-center that scored Diaz from first for an insurance run. Ryan Beckman worked the ninth and picked up his second save of the 2014 season.
Winners of five straight, the Curve (10-9) will now look to make it six straight as they take on the RubberDucks (10-11) in the second game of the series at 2:05 p.m. Saturday afternoon from Canal Park. RHP A.J. Morris (0-0, 2.53) gets the ball for the Curve in Game Two and will be making his second start of the season. He’ll be opposed by RubberDucks RHP Cody Anderson (1-2, 4.50).
--Altoona Curve Media Relations
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