Logan Hill drove a three-run homer to cap a six-run eighth inning as the Altoona Curve came from behind to beat the Akron RubberDucks, 6-5, on Thursday night at Peoples Natural Gas Field to open the 2018 season.
The Curve (1-0) rallied to overcome a three-run deficit to the RubberDucks (0-1) entering the eighth.
With one out in the eighth, Cole Tucker broke the shutout with a two-run double. Stephen Alemais followed with an RBI single to even the score at 3-3.
After Akron’s Argenis Angulo (Loss, 0-1) issued a walk to Will Craig, Hill drove his go-ahead, three-run homer to the left-field seats to give the Curve a 6-3 lead.
In the top of the ninth, Akron plated a pair of runs against Altoona reliever Geoff Hartlieb (Save, 1), but the right-hander worked a flyout from Tyler Kreiger to strand the potential tying run at second to end the game.
Akron broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the fifth inning. Sam Haggerty singled to plate the first run of the game, and a fielding error at first base by Craig off the bat of Dorssys Paulino brought home two runs later in the frame.
Curve starting pitcher J.T. Brubaker worked through five innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts, tying the second-highest strikeout total for an Altoona Opening Day starting pitcher in franchise history.
In his Double-A debut, Curve reliever Logan Sendelbach worked two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts. Sean Keselica (Win, 1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth.
Akron starter Shane Bieber allowed two hits over six scoreless innings and struck out nine.
The win marked the first time in Curve franchise history that the team has won back-to-back season openers after topping Harrisburg on the road last season, 5-3, on Opening Day. It was the Curve’s first season-opening win at home since a 7-4 victory over the Erie SeaWolves on April 5, 2012.
The Curve and RubberDucks play the second of the four-game set on Friday night. Right-hander Dario Agrazal will start on the mound for Altoona, opposed by Akron right-hander Aaron Civale. First pitch at PNG Field is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the ballpark gates open at 5 p.m.