Losses all around in the Pirates’ minor league organization:
Augusta Green Jackets 5, West Virginia Power 3
A 4-run 2nd inning by Augusta had the Power trying to catch up for most of the game. With Zack Dodson getting the start, Augusta scored on two singles, a throwing error by 3B Eric Avila, a 2 RBI triple, and an RBI ground out. Only two of the runs were earned. Dodson retired the side in two other innings, and walked two batters in the 4th. The Power posted 8 hits (to Augusta’s 5 hits), and put runners on base in each of their first four innings but could not bring any of them around to score. The top of the 5th began with back-to-back singles by LF Rogelios Noris and SS Gift Ngoepe. 2B Drew Maggi dropped down a sacrifice bunt, but a missed catch error by the Augusta first baseman put Maggi safe on first, moved Ngoepe to third, and allowed Noris to score. Ngoepe scored on an RBI ground out.
Dodson was relieved by Brooks Pounders to begin the bottom of the 5th. Pounders surrendered another unearned run, on two singles, a passed ball, and a wild pitch in the 5th. He retired the side in order in both the 7th and 8th innings. Ryan Beckman retired the side in order in the 8th inning.
The Power continued to put runners on base in each inning, and they scored again in the 8th. RF Dan Grovatt walked, moved to second base on a ground out, and scored on DH Justin Howard’s line drive single into left field. Ngoepe also singled in the 3rd inning. CF Mel Rojas singled three times: in the 1st, the 3rd, and the 7th. He also stole second base in the 1st.
Altoona Curve 2, Richmond Flying Squirrels 0
The Altoona Curve put on a pitching demonstration in their home opener, as four pitchers combined for a shut-out and held the Squirrels to just 3 hits. Aaron Thompson made the start, and he dominated Richmond. Thompson retired the first 10 batters he faced. He gave up a walk in the 4th inning, but left that runner on base. He gave up a triple to lead off the 5th, but a grounder to third let 3B Jeremy Farrell fire the ball back to C Tony Sanchez, who tagged out the runner at the plate. Thompson had to work around a single and a fielding error in the 6th, but after a sacrifice bunt, two timely strikeouts got him out of that jam. Thompson also struck out 5 batters in his second win of the season.
The Curve posted 8 hits, and 3 of those were singles by RF Brad Chalk, who had been off to a slow start for the season (1-for-16). He singled in the 3rd, the 6th, and the 8th, though he didn’t score. Altoona scored their first run in the 4th, when Sanchez led off with a walk, then scored all the way from first base on 1B Miles Durham’s double into center field. SS Jordy Mercer belted a home run over the left field wall in the 5th inning for the Curve’s second run. That was all the offense that was needed. The Curve put two runners on base in the 6th, when Chalk singled and pinch-hitter Kris Watts was hit by a pitch, but both were left on base. They threatened in the 7th, when CF Starling Marte led off with a single into right field and stole second base. He moved to third on a ground out, and tried for home when Sanchez grounded to third, but was thrown out at the plate on a play similar to what the Curve did to the Squirrels in the 5th. Sanchez and LF Quincy Latimore also had singles in the game.
Mike Colla, Michael Dubee, and Noah Krol each pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Curve. Krol allowed one hit in the 9th, but left that base runner on, and earned his 3rd Save.
The Curve played an early game on Wednesday…
Akron Aeros 3, Altoona Curve 2
Down 3-1 going into the top of the 9th, the Curve rallied, beginning with 3B Jeremy Farrell reaching base on a fielding error by the Akron shortstop. A passed ball put Farrell on second base. Strikeouts by LF Shelby Ford and RF Brad Chalk made the Curve’s situation even more desperate. 2B Brock Holt hit his third single of the day, and CF Starling Marte also singled, loading the bases with two outs. But the Curve’s hopes ended when SS Jordy Mercer also struck out.
Jeff Locke made the start for the Curve, and he was charged with the loss. Locke worked his way out of a jam with runners on the corners in the 1st inning, and worked around a lead-off single in the 2nd. Another single led off the 3rd inning, and back-to-back doubles, one zipping just out of reach of Farrell’s backhand dive, drove in 2 runs. After a single, a walk, and two strikeouts in the 5th, Locke was relieved by Anthony Claggett. Claggett finished up the 5th with a ground out, leaving two runners on base. He also pitched the 6th and 7th innings, and surrendered a solo home run to lead off the 6th. Tom Boleska pitched the 8th inning, and kept the Aeros from scoring again, despite a single and a walk.
The Curve scored their first run in the 4th. 1B Miles Durham and C Kris Watts worked back-to-back walks, and when Farrell lifted a soft single into right field, Durham scored from second base. Farrell and Holt each walked once, and Farrell also singled in the 6th inning. Holt singled to open the game, then again in the 5th.
The Curve will have their home opener tomorrow.
Three wins for the Pirates’ lower minor league teams on Tuesday:
Altoona Curve 2, Akron Aeros 0
Starter Bryan Morris threw 6 shutout innings to lead the Curve over the Aeros in Akron. Morris scattered 4 hits and a walk, while striking out 3 for his first win of the season. The only real trouble he had was in the bottom of the 1st, when rehabbing Grady Sizemore began the inning with a walk. After two grounder force outs, a single, Akron had runners on first and second. A single lined into center field had the runner from second charging for home, but CF Starling Marte fired in to C Eric Fryer, who tagged out the runner at the plate. Morris sailed through his remaining 5 innings, allowing just two more hits — singles in the 2nd and the 5th. Brian Leach, Michael Dubee, and Noah Krol each pitched one scoreless inning of relief. Leach and Dubee each allowed one walk, but Dubee struck out the other three batters he faced. Krol earned his second Save of the season.
Both of the Curve’s runs scored in the 3rd inning. 3B Jeremy Farrell began the rally by being hit by a pitch. Fryer singled, and RF Jose Hernandez sacrifice bunted both runners into scoring position. 2B Brock Holt grounded to first, but a fielding error let him reach safely and gave Farrell the chance to score. An RBI grounder by Marte brougth in Fryer with the second run. Marte stole second base and moved to third on a wild pitch, but the inning ended before he could come around to score.
Marte singled after Holt walked in the 5th inning, and both Farrell and Fryer singled in the 7th, but neither of those threats yielded any runs. Farrell lined into right field in the 9th, and rounded second easily, but was thrown out when he tried to stretch it into a triple. He would have scored if he’d stopped at second, because Fryer followed with his own double. Fryer was 3-for-4 in the game, and Farrell went 2-for-3.
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.