Big hitting in the Pirates’ minor league affiliates’ Sunday action:
Altoona Curve 13, Reading Phillies 4 (conclusion of suspended game)
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The Curve were way out in front when rain halted play on Saturday evening, leading 11-1 in the middle of the 3rd. When play resumed today, Matt McSwain took over on the mound for starter Aaron Pribanic. McSwain gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the 3rd, to make it 11-2. McSwain retired the R-Phils in order over the next three innings, until he gave up another solo homer, followed by two singles, in the 7th.
CF Starling Marte singled for the Curve in the 4th but did not score. The Curve went down in order for the next two innings, then they rallied again in the top of the 7th. RF Anthony Norman led off with a walk, and Marte singled again. A throwing error by the R-Phils third baseman let Norman score. Marte advanced to third base, and he scored on SS Jordy Mercer’s sacrifice fly.
Aaron Thompson came on in relief in the 8th inning. He gave up a single and a walk, but retired the next three batters for a scoreless 8th. Reading scored one more time in the bottom of the 9th, on a single, a walk, and an RBI double, but it was way too little and way to late, and the Curve had the win.
Reading Phillies 2, Altoona Curve 1 (scheduled game)
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The Curve should have saved a few hits and runs for this game. They posted 6 hits, with 2 each by CF Starling Marte and RF Brad Chalk, and one each by SS Jordy Mercer and C Tony Sanchez. Their only run came in the top of the 1st, on a single by Marte and Mercer’s RBI double.
The Curve put at least one runner on base in all but one of the rest of the innings, but could not bring anyone around to score. Sanchez and Chalk hit back-to-back singles in the 2nd, and that was their biggest threat. A strikeout and a ground out ended that rally.
Jeff Locke pitched 5 innings in his start. He gave up one single over the first two innings, then gave up a solo home run with two outs in the 3rd to tie the game. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases after the homer, but a fly out got Locke out of that jam. Locke also gave up a single in both the 4th and the 5th.
Donnie Veal relieved Locke to begin the 6th inning. He also gave up a 2-out solo home run for the go-ahead run, and was charged with the loss. The Curve had one last chance in the top of the 7th, when Sanchez led off with a walk, then went to second base on a bunt by Chalk, but he was left stranded when the game ended.
Everyone in action on Thursday evening…. and the State College Spikes begin their season next week on Friday
Altoona Curve 5, Erie SeaWolves 4
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A 4-run 4th inning gave the Curve a big boost, and a run in the bottom of the 8th gave them the win over Erie. Starter Mike Colla held the SeaWolves to two hits in the 1st inning, and retired the side in the 2nd and 3rd, to get a good start. He gave up a walk and a 2-run homer in the top of the 4th, to put Erie onto the scoreboard.
The Curve had only two walks (3B Jeremy Farrell and CF Starling Marte) and a single by 2B Brock Holt over the first three innings. Then they too broke out in the 4th inning. LF Quincy Latimore led off the inning with a solo home run. After an out, Farrell singled and C Tony Sanchez was hit by a pitch. RF Brad Chalk hit the first of three singles in the gmae, driving in Farrell from second base. Sanchez reached third base on the play, then stole home as Chalk stole second base behind him, both reaching safely. A wild pitch put Chalk on third base, and he scored on Holt’s double, to give the Curve a 4-2 lead.
Colla retired the side in order again in the 5th, then gave up a lead-off homer in the 6th, to bring Erie within one run of the Curve, 4-3. Colla allowed 5 hits and one walk, with 5 strikeouts in his 6 innings. He was relieved by Aaron Thompson, who pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning. Thompson was charged with a Blown Save when he gave up the tying run in the 8th. A lead-off single, a sacrifice bunt, a walk with a wild pitch on ball four, and an RBI ground out brought the game to a 4-4 tie.
Jeremy Farrell got the lead back for the Curve with a lead-off home run to begin the bottom of the 8th. Chalk also picked up his third hit of the game with a single after the home run, but he was thrown out at second base. Noah Krol pitched the 9th inning, and earned his 12th save with a perfect inning.
The Altoona Curve had a scheduled day off on Monday, but the Power and the Marauders were in action.
Delmarva Shorebirds 10, West Virginia Power 7
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A 6-run offensive blast by the Power was enough to tie the score, but not enough for the win. Delmarva got the game started with a 3-run homer off Zack Von Rosenberg in the top of the 1st, after a double and a single. Von Rosenberg put runners on base in the next two innings but did not let them come around to score. A walk and a 2-run homer increased the Shorebirds’ lead to 5-0 with one out in the 4th. A single and a walk followed that homer, and Von Rosenberg was relieved by Porfirio Lopez. Lopez finished the 4th, but gave up two more runs in the 5th on a single, a walk, a balk, another single, and a fielding error by SS Drew Maggi.
The Power led off each of the first four innings with a hit: singles by Maggi (1st), 1B Chase Lyles (2nd), and 3B Eric Avila (3rd), and a double by LF Dan Grovatt (4th). Grovatt was the only one who scored, on RF Justin Howard’s RBI single. The Power went into the bottom of the 5th trailing 7-1, and that’s when the fireworks started. With one out, Avila walked, Maggi doubled, and 2B Kevin Mort walked, to load the bases. Grovatt tapped back to the mound, where the Shorebirds’ pitcher thought he could get a force out at the plate. Instead, he made a fielding error, and Avila scored. A wild pitch brought in Maggi, then Howard walked to load the bases again. Lyles’ RBI single into center field plated Mort with the third run of the inning. C Kawika Emsley-Pai was hit by a pitch, forcing in Grovatt, and after a pitching change, DH Elias Diaz brought in both Howard and Lyles with a 2-RBI single, to tie the score at 7-7. After a fly out, Avila’s second walk of the inning loaded the bases again, but a ground out by Maggi ended the inning.
Zac Fuesser took over on the mound for the 6th, which was scoreless (for both teams). The top of the 7th began with a missed catch error by Lyles at first. Fuesser’s balk pushed that runner to second base, and a bunt advanced him to third. He scored on an RBI double, then a walk, two singles, and a fielding error by RF Howard added two more runs.
Casey Sadler pitched the 8th inning for the Power. He gave up a double and hit a batter, but got out of the inning without a run scoring. The Power put two runner on in the 7th, when Lyles and Diaz both walked, but a double play and a fly out ended that inning. They threatened again in the bottom of the 9th. Grovatt singled, but was erased in a double play. Then Lyles walked and Emsley-Pai and Diaz singled to load the bases, but a strikeout ended the game.
Sunday action with the Pirates’ lower minor leaguers:
Portland Sea Dogs 12, Altoona Curve 4
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The Sea Dogs posted 17 hits on their way to 12 runs, scoring in three big innings. They began with 3 runs in the top of the 1st off Curve starter Aaron Pribanic, who suffered the loss. A walk, two singles, and two doubles brought in the runs in the 1st. Portland added a run in the 2nd on a single, two stolen bases, a fielding error, and an RBI ground out. Pribanic retired the side in order in the next two innings, but gave up one more run in the 5th on three singles. Pribanic gave up the 5 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches with 61 strikes.
The Curve were held to 6 hits, and three of them belonged to C Kris Watts, including a solo homer. SS Jordy Mercer had 2 hits, both solo home runs. CF Starling Marte’s double was the other run. Watts singled and 3B Jeremy Farrell was hit by a pitch in th 2nd inning, but both were left on base. Mercer put the Curve onto the scoreboard with his first home run in the 4th, and Watts also singled after the homer.
Aaron Thompson pitched a scoreless 6th inning for the Curve, then Donnie Veal, who was just promoted from the Marauders, pitched the 7th. Veal gave up a solo homer to lead off the 7th, then gave up a single and a 2-run homer, giving Portland an 8-1 lead. Things got even worse in the 8th, with Diego Moreno on the mound. a single, a double, and a walk loaded the bases, then a grand slam raised Portland’s lead to 12-1.
Mercer’s second home run came in the bottom of the 8th, after Marte’s double. Watts picked up his third hit in the bottom of the 9th, a solo home run, but that was all the Curve could get.
Thursday evening’s action with the Pirates’ lower minor leaguers…
Altoona Curve 5, Trenton Thunder 1
Starter Jeff Locke struck out 8 Trenton batters in his 5.1 innings of work, while getting plenty of run support — 3 home runs from his offense. The only run Locke surrendered came in the bottom of the 2nd, when Trenton loadd the bases on a walk, a hit batter, and a single. Another walk by Locke forced in the run, then a strikeout and a double play got him out of the inning. Locke allowed only a walk and a double over the next three innings. He began the 6th with a pair of walks and a strikeout before being relieved by Diego Moreno.
Meanwhile, the Curve were pounding out the hits — a total of 15, including 3 by 2B Brock Holt. Each Curve batter had at least one hit. 1B Matt Curry, who had two hits in the game, began the Curve scoring with a solo home run to lead off the top of the 2nd. Holt led off the 3rd with a line drive single to short, then moved to second on LF Quincy Latimore’s walk, and scored on SS Jordy Mercer’s RBI single.
Back-to-back solo homers by Latimore and Mercer added another 2 runs in the 5th inning. The Curve loaded the bases on three consecutive singles in the 6th — by RF Jose Hernandez, Holt, and CF Brad Chalk, but Latimore struck out to end the inning and leave all three runners on base. The final Curve run scored in the 8th. The inning began with back-to-back singles by DH Travis Scott and 3B Greg Picart. Picart was picked off first and caught stealing, but Scott advanced to third, and he was plated by Hernandez’s sacrifice fly. Holt also tripled in that inning.
Moreno finished the 6th inning for Locke with a strikeout and a pop out. Then he struck out the side in the 7th inning. Michael Dubee pitched 2 scoreless innings to end the game. He loaded the bases with a double, a single, and a walk in the 8th, but got out of that jam with a strikeout and a force out. Then he worked around a single for a scoreless 9th.