ERIE – Altoona seemed primed to sweep a doubleheader with the Erie SeaWolves on Saturday night but ended up settling for a split with a win in Game 1, 2-0, and an extra-innings walk-off loss in Game 2, 7-6. Alen Hanson drove in four runs in the two games for the Curve in the split.
In the first game, Joely Rodriguez (2-4) and Jhonathan Ramos combined on the team’s third shutout win of the 2014 season. Rodriguez turned in his third quality start of the season in the win, tossing six innings and scattering two hits while whiffing five. All the runs the Curve needed in Game 1 came from Hanson’s two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning.
Of the 13 runs the Curve had scored in the series to that point, 12 of them had been scored with two outs. Ramos pitched the seventh for his second save of the season and the Curve were riding a mini three-game winning streak heading into the second game. Also riding a hot bad into Game 2 was Mel Rojas, Jr., who reached base four times (a single and three walks) in the first game.
Things continued to roll the Curve’s way in the second game when they picked up two runs in the first inning thanks to a two-out, two-runs ingle by Keon Broxton in the first inning off starter Nick Avila.
That lead stuck until the bottom of the second when Erie stole three bases in the inning and scored two runs, the second of which was unearned to starter Tyler Sample. That’s where the game stayed until the fourth when Steven Moya, who proved to be a big player in the second game, hit the first of his home runs, this one a two-run homer that placed Erie in the lead for the first time in the series, 4-2.
The Curve, however, had an answer and it came in the form of Hanson’s fifth home run of the season, a two-run homer in the fifth, and things were tied at four.
After Sample shut down the SeaWolves in the bottom of the fifth, the offense went back to work off reliever Bryan Augenstein in the sixth. Broxton led off the inning with a walk and then stole second before Justin Howard singled on the infield. Andy Vasquez followed and hit a double over first baseman Aaron Westlake to score Broxton and place the Curve back in front, 5-4.
That marked the end of the day for Augenstein, who gave way to Jose Valdez. He immediately came in and loaded up the bases by walking Kawika Emsley-Pai for Drew Maggi with no one out. Maggi bounced back to Valdez but he threw to first instead of home and another run touched home to make it, 6-4 Curve.
From there, things didn’t seem to break the Curve’s way the rest of the second game. With Vasquez at third and Emsley-Pai at second and one out, the Curve put the suicide squeeze on and it backfired. Gift Ngoepe, the man at the plate, couldn’t get the bunt down and Vasquez was out at home. Emsley-Pai moved to third but was stranded there after Ngoepe later struck out.
In the bottom of the inning, Sample recorded the first two outs before walking Ramon Cabrera. Brandon Mann was summoned from the ‘pen to try and hold the line. He got Dean Green to fly deep to right but Vasquez appeared to fall down as he got to the wall in right and the ball hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double. Moya followed and smacked a single off the glove of Ngoepe and into centerfield. Both runners scored and it tied the game at six.
Hanson reached to start the seventh, stole second with no one out and moved to third on a Rojas flyout to center. With him representing the go-ahead run at third, both Matt Curry and Broxton struck out to end the inning. Broxton was ejected after arguing a low called third strike to end the inning and the threat.
The game progressed to extra innings and in the eighth Mann retired the first two men before facing Moya again. With two strikes, Moya homered deep to right to end the game and send the Curve to a doubleheader split. Moya finished the second game 4-for-4 with two homers and six RBI for Erie.
Altoona (20-28) aims to secure a series win with a victory in Sunday afternoon’s 1:35 p.m. game with Erie (19-28) at Jerry Uht Park. RHP Adrian Sampson (3-3, 2.17) starts for the Curve in his second appearance this season versus Erie. He’ll be opposed by Tommy Collier (1-5, 7.78) on Sunday.
--Altoona Curve Media Relations