Altoona Curve 8, Erie SeaWolves 6
Two big innings gave the Curve enough runs to withstand a late-inning rally by the SeaWolves and take the win to open this series. The Curve got started with a two-out rally which scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 2nd. After a line out and a ground out, C Tony Sanchez and DH Kris Watts both walked. 1B Miles Durham and RF Brad Chalk then hit back-to-back doubles, with Durham driving in one run and Watts adding two. 2B Brock Holt reached base on a fielding error at shortstop, moving Chalk to third base. Chalk scored on a balk, giving the Curve a 4-0 lead. They added 3 more runs in the 5th, beginning with Holt’s lead-off single through the hole into right field. CF Starling Marte dropped down a sacrifice bunt to moved Holt to second base. Three consecutive singles, by LF Quincy Latimore, Mercer, and 3B Jeremy Farrell brought in one run (Mercer’s RBI). After a pitching change, Sanchez made it four straight singles with a liner into center field, scoring Latimore and Mercer. The Curve added one more insurance run in the 7t, on a single by Latimore and an RBI double by Mercer.
Aaron Pribanic made the start for the Curve and earned his second win of the season. He pitched 5 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits and a walk. Two of the hits, a single and a double, came in the 3rd inning, and were followed by a bouncer back to the mound, which Pribanic returned to Sanchez, who tagged out the lead runner at the plate. Two more singles came in the 4th, and both of those runners were left on base. Brian Leach pitched the 6th and 7th innings and gave up a run in each. A walk and a triple plated the run in the 6th, and a walk, a single, and two ground outs brought in the run in the 7th. Tom Boleska began the 8th inning, and got into trouble right away. Two walks and a double loaded the bases, and a sacrifice fly scored one run. After another walk, Boleska was relieved by Noah Krol. The first batter Krol faced doubled into left field for 2 runs, and a hit batter and an RBI ground out gave Erie the fourth run of the inning. Krol ended the rally with a strikeout, then retired the SeaWolves in order in the 9th to earn his 6th Save of the season.
The Indianapolis Indians and the Columbus Clippers were rained out in Columbus tonight. They will try for two on Monday, beginning at 5 pm. Sunday’s game is scheduled for 4 pm.
Infielder Pedro Ciriaco was optioned back to the Indians, after just a brief visit to Pittsburgh. The Pirates’ new shortstop Brandon Wood got himself to Pittsburgh very quickly, so no need for Ciriaco to fill in. Jose Ascanio, who was hit in the head by a line drive on Thursday, has been diagnosed as having “just” a contusion (a bruise). He’s doing better today.
Kannapolis Intimidators 8, West Virginia Power 7 (Game 1)
The Pirates were able to fight back after Kannapolis scored 6 runs in the 2nd inning, but 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th gave Kannapolis the win. The Power had the early lead with one run in the 1st and 2 more in the 2nd. CF Mel Rojas walked, and 1B Matt Curry singled. LF Rogelios Noris’ fly out moved Rojas to third, and then Rojas scored on RF Justin Howard’s single through the hole into left field. C Kawika Emsley-Pai walked to load the bases, but a ground out ended the inning without any more runs scoring. With one out in the top of the 2nd, back-to-back doubles by DH Jairo Marquez and SS Drew Maggi brought in one run, then a wild pitch and a fielding error allowed Maggi to score, giving the Power a 3-0 lead.
Starter Colton Cain had retired the Intimidators in order in the 1st, but got in trouble in the bottom of the 2nd, when the first 6 batters who came to the plate reached base safely. A single, a double, and a walk loaded the bases, then a hit batter forced in the first run. A double plated two more, and a single added another two. Another double made it 6 runs in the inning, and the Power were behind 6-3.
The Power battled right back in the top of the 3rd. Walks to Howard and 3B Andy Vasquez both walked, and Emsley-Pai was hit by a pitch to load the bases again for the Power. An RBI ground out drove in Howard, then Marquez’s single scored both Vasquez and Emsley-Pai to tie the score at 6-6. The Power took the lead in the 4th on Curry’s lead-off home run.
Trent Stevenson relieved Cain to begin the 3rd inning, and he pitched 3 scoreless innings. He allowed 3 hits and struck out one. The Power bats suddenly went quiet after the 4th, with no more hits until the 7th, when Howard tripled. Emsley-Pai and Marquez both walked, but two ground outs and a strikeout left all three on base. Jason Townsend pitched the 6th inning for the Power, allowing just one hit. Casey Sadler came on to pitch the 7th, and with one out, Sadler gave up three consecutive singles. The third hit went to Howard in right field, and Howard’s throw back to the plate was right to Emsley-Pai, who tagged out the lead runner at the plate. But the next batter doubled to tie the score again, and the fourth single of the inning drove in the winning walk-off run.
Sunday’s action in the Pirates’ lower minor leagues:
West Virginia Power 7, Augusta Green Jackets 0
Three Power pitchers powered up to shut out the Green Jackets. Colton Cain made the start and earned his first win of the season. He allowed just one hit and one walk in 6 innings. Cain retired the first 9 Augusta batters in order, then gave up both the hit (a double) and a walk to begin the bottom of the 4th. A double play and a pop out got Cain out of that little jam, then he retired 6 more batters to end his outing. Kevin Decker allowed a single in each of his two innings, but maintained the shutout. Ryan Beckman gave up two singles in the 9th, but left both on base to end the game.
The Power began their scoring with an unearned run in the top of the 2nd. C Elias Diaz reached on a fielding error in right field, then advanced to third base on RF Dan Grovatt’s single. 2B Kevin Mort brought Diaz in with a sacrifice fly. Grovatt led off the 5th with a walk. He was forced out at second on Mort’s grounder, though Mort avoided the double play and was safe at first. LF Andy Vasquez plated Mort with a triple into right field.
The 6th was the big inning for the Power. CF Mel Rojas and 1B Matt Curry started the frame with back-to-back singles, and after two outs, Diaz walked to load the bases. Another walk to Grovatt forced in Rojas, then Mort drove in Curry and Diaz with a line drive single into center field. The Power tacked on another run in the 7th, when SS Gift Ngoepe doubled, Rojas singled (his third hit of the game), and a fielder’s choice on Curry’s ball let Ngoepe score. It was Curry’s turn to double in the 9th, and he scored on Avila’s RBI single.
One win on Monday night in the Pirates’ lower minor leagues:
Akron Aeros 6, Altoona Curve 5
CF Starling Marte had 3 hits for the Curve in their loss in Akron. Starter Aaron Pribanic gave up only a double over the first 3 innings, then surrendered a solo homer in the 4th. Akron scored 2 runs in the 5th, when rehabbing Cleveland Indians’ star Grady Sizemore doubled after two singles.
The Curve had only one hit, a single by LF Quincy Latimore, in their first 5 innings, though they also had two batters reach on errors — 2B Brock Holt in the 3rd and C Tony Sanchez in the 4th. Down 3-0 going into the top of the 6th, the Curve got going. With one out, Marte beat out a bunt single, and SS Jordy Mercer walked. Sanchez also beat out an infield single to third to load the bases, and 1B Miles Durham’s line drive into left field brought in Marte, leaving the bases loaded again. Latimore plated Mercer with a sacrifice fly. Then 3B Jeremy Farrell drove in Sanchez and Durham when he tripled into center field, giving the Curve a 4-3 lead.
Tim Alderson relieved Pribanic to begin the 6th inning. He gave up two singles in that inning, but kept the Aeros from scoring. Akron also singled twice in the bottom of the 7th, including one by Sizemore, but this time, a throwing error by Holt on the force attempt let in one unearned run. After a ground out, a double drove in two more runs, also unearned, and Akron had the lead back, 6-4.
The Curve added one more run in the 8th, when Latimore walked, then came around to score on Farrell’s double into right field. Walks to DH Eric Fryer and RF Brad Chalk loaded the bases again, but the Curve could not capitalize, and all three were left stranded. Tom Boleska finished the game for the Curve with a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th. Alderson was charged with the loss, as well as a Blown Save.
All of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates lost their season openers on Thursday night:
Erie SeaWolves 3, Altoona Curve 2
One run in the bottom of the 9th made the difference, as the Curve lost in Erie, PA. The SeaWolves were first onto the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the 5th inning. Curve starter Bryan Morris had already escaped from two jams in the early innings. In the 2nd, RF Brad Chalk threw out a runner who was trying to stretch a double into a triple, then Chalk ended the inning when he threw to C Tony Sanchez to nail a runner who was trying to score from second base on a single. Morris loaded the bases in the 4th with a single and two walks, but a timely double play, 3B Jeremy Farrell to 2B Brock Holt, to 1B Miles Durham, ended that inning without a run scoring. Morris’ luck ran out in the 5th, though, when a walk and a 2-run homer gave Erie a 2-0 lead.
The Curve missed a scoring opportunity in the top of the 2nd, when Sanchez singled into left field, and LF Quincy Latimore lined a double just out of the reach of the Erie left fielder. But with runners on second and third, Erie starter Jacob Turner struck out both Farrell and DH Eric Fryer to end the inning. Turner allowed only two base runners for the next 4 innings — he walked Holt, and he hit Sanchez with a pitch. (Sanchez has got to stop being a magnet for opposing pitchers’ pitches.) After Turner left the game, the Curve were able to put men on base again. Farrell singled and Fryer walked in the 7th, though they didn’t score. The 8th inning began with back-to-back walks to Holt and CF Starling Marte. SS Jordy Mercer bunted them over to second and third, then another walk to Sanchez loaded the bases. Latimore came through again, with another double off the left field wall, missing a grand slam by inches, to plate both Holt and Marte and tie the game at 2-2.
Reliever Anthony Claggett finished the 5th inning for Morris with a strikeout and a pickoff of one of the runners Morris had put on base. Aaron Pribanic and Jared Hughes each pitched a perfect inning, with one strikeout for Pribanic and two for Hughes. Michael Dubee struck out the side in the 8th inning to preserve the tie. The Curve batters could not get anything going in the top of the 9th, though, and Dubee came back out to pitch the bottom of the 9th. With one out, a single and a stolen base put a runner in scoring position, and a ground out moved him to third base. Then a sinking line drive, just inches away from the diving Latimore’s glove, fell in for a hit, scoring the runner from third base for the walk-off win.
Dubee was charged with the loss. Morris got a no-decision, with 2 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks, plus 3 strikeouts, in 4.1 innings. The Curve had just 4 hits, two of them doubles by Latimore.