Feeling the Hearn: Curve pitcher fans nine in win


Tyler Gaffney ended Thursday’s game with a walk-off single while Taylor Hearn, Yeudy Garcia and Sean Keselica held the Reading Fightin Phils off the scoreboard in a 1-0 win for the Altoona Curve at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
After four Curve (28-27) runs in the first inning on Wednesday, Altoona and the Fightin Phils (25-33) played 16 straight innings without scoring a run prior to Gaffney’s game-winner. The shutout victory is the fourth this season and second in a row for the Curve pitching staff while the walk-off victory is the third for Altoona in 2018.
The only run of the game was set up by back-to-back infield hits by Stephen Alemais and Jason Martin to begin the ninth. Will Craig bounced into a double play to move Alemais over the third before pinch-hitter Jordan George was walked intentionally. Gaffney fell behind in the count, 0-2, to Reading reliever Edgar Garcia (Loss, 5-2) but worked the count to full before he sent his first Double-A hit up the middle to score Alemias.
The Curve received seven innings from Hearn, which matched a career-best for innings pitched, and he equaled a season-high nine strikeouts. Ranger Suarez of Reading replicated Hearn’s strong outing and held Altoona to two hits over seven scoreless with nine strikeouts of his own.
Hearn struck out the first four Fightins he faced and racked up seven punchouts through the first three frames. He had one three-ball count through his first six innings that resulted in a walk to Malquin Canelo in the third. He limited the Fightins to four hits, two by Austin Bossart, while only two baserunners reached second base. Working in the seventh for the first time this year, Hearn labored through a trio of three-ball counts but was able to work an infield fly and a strikeout to strand a pair of Reading runners.
Prior to the ninth, Altoona’s best scoring chance came in the first inning. Cole Tucker singled and reached second base with no outs after a balk by Suarez but never left second base due to two strikeouts by Suarez and a groundout.
Yeudy Garcia retired the first two Reading batters he faced out of the bullpen before issuing two, two-out walks in the eighth. Sean Keselica (Win, 2-0) came in after Garcia’s second walk and struck out Darick Hall to halt the scoring threat and fanned two more in the ninth.
After seven scoreless innings by Hearn and six blank innings from Mitch Keller on Wednesday, Curve starters have combined for 13 consecutive innings without allowing a run. Overall, Curve pitching has teamed up for 20 straight scoreless frames.
On Friday, the Curve open a three-game series against the Hartford Yard Goats. Left-hander Cam Vieaux (4-1, 3.81 with A-Adv. Bradenton) will make his Double-A debut and start for Altoona opposite Hartford right-hander Jesus Tinoco (4-4, 5.40).
On Friday, the Xpogo Stunt Team will bring their high-flying, extreme pogo stick act to PNG Field. There will also be fireworks after the game.  The ballpark gates will open at 6 p.m.

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