A double to deep center field in the top of the seventh by Carlos Paulino plated Drew Maggi from first for the eventual winning run, as the Curve beat the Flying Squirrels 3-2 in the first of two games Saturday night.
Starter Nick Kingham lasted just 4.2 innings while throwing 103 pitches. He allowed four hits, walked five and hit one, while striking out eight. Kingham worked in and out of jams in the first two innings, each time allowing runners to reach first and second with just one out, but benefited from a double-play ball and a runner caught stealing to make it through two scoreless.
Alen Hanson got the scoring started for Altoona, tripling to center field in the top of the third to plate Mel Rojas, Jr. For Hanson, it was his second triple in as many nights.
A Hanson error in the bottom of the third led to the Squirrels first run as Kingham left a ball up in the zone that was pelted off the top of the left field wall for an RBI double. Kingham settled down and retired the next six hitters, four by strikeout, before losing his control in the fifth. For the evening, Kingham only retired hitters via strikeout or ground ball, as the only balls to reach the outfield went for hits.
The teams again traded runs in the fifth, when the Curve manufactured a run following a Maggi hit by pitch. He stole second, advanced to third on a fly to right, and scored when Kingham bunted towards first.
Jarek Cunningham continued to swing a hot bat, singling twice in three at bats and is now 8 for his last 13. Jhonathan Ramos worked 1.1 innings in relief of Kingham, striking out three to earn the win. Luis Sanz worked a perfect seventh for his 16th save.
**SS Alen Hanson went 1-for-3, with an RBI triple. Hanson allowed himself to get behind in the count early, and thus had an aggressive approach in his other two at bats. Leading off the game, he popped up to short, but hit a hard ball down the third base line that resulted in a close play in his final at bat. He again had ups and downs in the field, bobbling a ground ball towards his left that led to the Squirrels first run. A quick reaction in the seventh allowed Hanson to quickly catch a line drive that seemed destined for center field.
**RF Gregory Polanco finished 0-for-3, striking out once on a questionable called third strike. He hit a weak comebacker in the first, and was robbed of at least a single by a diving catch in left field in his final at bat. Polanco made just his second start of the season in right field, and while there doesn’t seem to be much more to this than getting others at bats, Polanco is again in right field for the second game of the double header. He saw no balls hit his way in the first.
**LF Alex Dickerson struck out in all three plate appearances. He battled in his first at bat, seeing seven pitches, but failed to put the ball in play. He’s hitless in two games at Richmond, and is out of the lineup for Saturday night’s second game.
**SP Nick Kingham
Kingham never found a groove but managed tow work out serious trouble all evening. When he needed strikeouts, he got them, twice striking out the side. Unofficially, I had him with 13 first-pitch strikes to 23 batters. He helped his own cause at the plate, both times advancing runners including a sacrifice bunt producing the Curve’s second run. Kingham showed a slow, deliberate delivery, and the Squirrels attempted to run on him three times. One runner was thrown out, while the other two saw balls put into play.