Mercer Gets 4 Hits And Walk-Off; Cunningham Homers In The 12th

Altoona Curve� 6,� Erie SeaWolves� 5 ..�� (box)

2B Jordy Mercer knocked out 4 hits, including the game-winning single in the bottom of the 9th, and collected 4 RBI, as the Curve got past the SeaWolves in this series opener.� Mercer’s first hit, a double, drove in two runs in the bottom of the 1st inning, after walks by SS Chase d’Arnaud and 1B Matt Hague. Erie got one of the runs back in the top of the 2nd, on a single, a wild pitch, and and RBI single.

There was no more scoring for the next 5 innings.� Curve starter Jared Hughes scattered 3 more singles and a walk over those innings, but kept the SeaWolves scoreless.� The Curve also managed only a few hits. � 3B Josh Harrison singled in the 3rd, but was out in a double play.� Mercer singled in the 4th and was out in a force play.� DH Andrew Lambo singled in the 6th, and Hague reached on a fielding error, but they did not get past second base.

The Curve scored again in the 7th.� Singles by RF Miles Durham and LF Yung Chi Chen opened the inning.� CF Jose De Los Santos brought in Durham from third base on an RBI grounder force out.

Hughes was done after 6 innings, and he was relieved by Bryan Morris, who has been moved to the bullpen in an attempt to cut back on his innings for the rest of the season.� Morris gave up a single to lead off the 7th, but a sacrifice bunt and two strikeouts ended the inning.� He was not so happy in the 8th.� A walk, a single, and a walk to former Pirate and Curve Brandon Jones loaded the bases with no outs.� The next batter doubled, driving in two runs, but Jones was out at the plate on the throw in from Chen in left field.� Mike Dubee relieved Morris, but gave up a single to score another run.� Then a huge triple brought in the 4th run of the inning, and the SeaWolves had a 5-3 lead.

Hague started a rally in the bottom of the 8th with a double into right field.� Mercer drove in Hauge with his third hit of the game, creeping the Curve a little closer, 5-4.� Dubee retired the side in order in the top of the 9th, and the Curve had one more chance.� With one out, Chase d’Arnaud walked, then stole second base.� A throwing error on the Erie catcher on the steal attempt let d’Arnaud advance to third base.� Harrison was hit by a pitch, then he stole second base.� Lambo was intentionally walked to load the bases.� That backfired when the Erie pitcher balked, and d’Arnaud scored the tying run, while the others moved up a base.� Another intentional walk to Hague loaded the bases … so that they could pitch to Mercer??� Yes, apparently so, and it was a mistake. because Mercer ripped a line drive single into center field, scoring Harrison with the winning run.

West Virginia Power� 5,� Rome Braves� 2 ..��� (box)

2B Jarek Cunningham was the hero for the Power tonight, with his 2-run home run in the top of the 12th.�� Cunningham had also singled in the 1st inning, but was out at second on a steal attempt.� The Power scored first in the 3rd inning.� DH Andy Vasquez singled, and a fielding error by the Braves’ catcher on a bunt attempt put Vasquez on second and SS Benji Gonzalez on first.� 3B Elevys Gonzalez also bunted, moving both runners into scoring position.� When Cunningham struck out and the catcher had to throw down to first base to complete the strikeout, Vasquez alertly scored from third base.

The Power threatened in the 5th, though it was all due to the Braves’ pitcher, who walked Benji Gonzalez, Cunningham, and RF Jose Hernandez to load the bases.� They were all left there when a ground out ended the inning.� They scored again in the 6th, on a double by CF David Rubinstein, a walk to C Ramon Cabrera, a fly out by LF Rogelios Noris that let Rubinstein tag up and go to third, then a wild pitch which let Rubinstein score from third.

Power starter Jason Erickson pitched 6 innings and struck out 7 batters, while he scattered 4 hits and only one run.� That run came in the 5th, on a double and a triple.� Mike Williams pitched two scoreless innings, with only one batter reaching base on a fielding error by Elevys Gonzalez. Maurice Bankston came on to pitch the 9th, with a 2-1 lead.� But the first three batters of the inning reached base safely, on two singles and a hit batter, loading the bases.� The next batter grounded into a double play, but the runner from third base scored, tying the game and sending it into extra innings.

Elevys Gonzalez walked to begin the 10th inning, and he got as far as third base, but could not score.� The Power went down in order in the 11th.� Bankston worked around a walk to keep the Braves scoreless in the 10th, and he retired the side in order in the 11th also.� The top of the 12th began with a single by Andy Vasquez, a sacrifice bunt by Benji Gonzalez, then a walk to Elevys Gonzalez.� A wild pitch allowed Vasquez to score the go-ahead run, then Cunningham homered to give the Power two more insurance runs.� Gabriel Alvarado came on to pitch the bottom of the inning.� He worked around a one-out single to keep the Braves from coming back, and earned his 5th save, while Bankston earned the win.

Mahoning Valley Scrappers� 1,� State College Spikes� 4 ..��� (box)

The Scrappers scored a run in the bottom of the 1st, and that was all it took in this pitching duel.� The run came off starter Zack Dodson, on a double, a passed ball by C Matt Skirving, a walk, and an RBI ground out.� Dodson pitched into the 5th inning, scattering 5 more hits and another walk, while striking out 3 batters.� A run-down on a batter trying to stretch a single into a double, and a timely pick-off play helped Dodson keep the Scrappers from scoring again.� Trent Stevenson relieved Dodson after two outs and a single in the 5th.� Stevenson finished the 5th, then pitched 2 perfect innings.� Mitch Fienemann gave up a walk and a double in the 8th inning, but the lead runner was caught trying to steal, and the Scrappers did not score again.

The Spikes were held to just 4 hits, but they could not capitalize on 8 walks and 2 errors by the Scrappers, and left a total of 11 runners on base.� 1B Matt Curry singled in the 2nd but was left stranded.� Skirving singled to lead off the 3rd and moved to second base on a throwing error.� Walks to 2B Gift Ngoepe and LF Adalberto Santos loaded the bases with two outs, but a ground out ended the inning.� RF Cole White singled to lead off the 6th, and DH Chase Lyles walked, but a double play ended that inning.� SS Drew Maggi had the final Spikes’ hit in the 7th.� Ngoepe walked again and Santos reached on a fielding error to load the bases again.� Two strikeouts ended that inning.� The Spikes went down in order in their last two at-bats.

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Nancy Zinni

Nancy grew up in Rochester, NY, where her father indoctrinated her to the love of baseball as a small child. He taught her to keep score at the age of 5, and she hasn't stopped since. She now lives in the Indianapolis area with her husband and two sons. Nancy has followed the Indians on both the Most Valuable Network and the Bloguin group, before joining Pirates Prospects in 2011. She provides daily game recaps from Indianapolis, plus player analysis from the guys she sees live at the games.

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