Pittsburgh Pirates fans might have heard this story before. Extra innings. Play at the plate. Obvious call that was missed by the umpire. Other team ends up winning. That’s what happened tonight in Altoona. The Curve attempted to score the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning on a sacrifice fly by Matt Curry. Jeremy Farrell arrived just after the tag, but knocked the ball out of the catcher’s glove. However, the umpire never saw the ball come out, and called Farrell out, sending the game to the 13th, and eventually to the 14th, where Altoona would lose.
Aaron Pribanic had a strong start, going six innings and allowing one run on five hits, with no walks and one strikeout. Pribanic threw 78 pitches, with 48 going for strikes. His only run of the night came in the second inning, when he gave up back to back singles to start the inning, followed by a sac fly to move the runners over, and a ground out to bring in the run.
Pribanic’s start was a typical start for the sinker ball pitcher. He didn’t get a lot of strikeouts, but got a ton of ground balls, to the tune of a 13:1 ground out to air out ratio.
“That’s kind of my job, to get ground balls, and I feel like I did that,” Pribanic said.
There have been concerns about Pribanic’s lack of strikeouts, and whether he can continue pitching at a high level focusing on a heavy ground ball approach. Pribanic doesn’t seem to worry about that though.
“An outs an out. As long as you’re going back to the dugout, it doesn’t matter how it happens for me,” the right hander said.
Pribanic left after six innings, and down 1-0. It looked like he wasn’t going to factor in to the decision, until Altoona rallied in the bottom of the inning. Andrew Lambo led off with a single, one of three hits on the day for the right fielder. Tony Sanchez followed that up with a single up the middle, putting runners at first and second. After Matt Curry bunted the runners over, Quincy Latimore brought in the tying run with a sacrifice fly. Two batters later, Kris Watts pinch hit for Pribanic, and singled through the right side of the infield. Tony Sanchez scored from second on the play, diving around the tag and giving Altoona a 2-1 lead.
The lead was short lived, as Duke Welker gave up a run in the top of the seventh, giving Pribanic a no decision after all. Welker started the frame with a fly out, but followed that up with a triple on a slider up in the zone. The ball took a funny bounce in the corner, rolling away from Quincy Latimore in left, allowing the runner to stretch a double in to a triple. Welker allowed the runner to score with a wild pitch on a 93 MPH fastball that was down and in the dirt, pitching inside to a left hander.
Tony Sanchez almost gave Altoona the lead in the bottom of the 8th inning when he led off with a fly ball to left field. Ryan Lollis went back to the wall and made the catch over his head, robbing Sanchez of a home run over the short wall in left field. Welker pitched a scoreless eighth, and the game remained tied through 11 innings, thanks to three shutout innings from Bryan Morris, who only gave up three hits, one walk, and struck out four in another strong relief outing. Morris threw 46 pitches, 30 for strikes.
Richmond took a one run lead in the top of the 12th, getting the go ahead run. However, Altoona battled back. Starling Marte led off with his third single of the night, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Marte, who extended his hitting streak to 16 games, and who also had a stolen base earlier, scored when Jeremy Farrell singled through the right side of the infield. That’s when the missed call came in to play.
Altoona loaded the bases with one out and Matt Curry at the plate. Curry hit a shallow fly ball to left-center field with Farrell tagging at third. The throw to the plate beat the runner, but the catcher dropped the ball. However, the ball rolled behind the umpire, who was trying to watch the tag. The catcher quickly picked the ball up before the umpire could see it was out. Altoona asked for an appeal, but didn’t get the call. Replays in the press box showed that the ball was knocked out on the slide.
The game was kept scoreless until the 14th inning, when Richmond scored three runs in the top of the frame. Altoona went down in order in the bottom half of the inning, ending the game after 14 innings and just over four hours.
The Pirates Prospects season ending tour will continue tomorrow from Altoona, where Kyle McPherson will be on the mound. I will be reporting live from the game, with a recap and more player insight afterwards. If you’ve enjoyed the reports so far, show your support to the site by purchasing a copy of the 2011 Prospect Guide, which is now on a season ending clearance sale.