Two Big Innings Cost Altoona Game One of the Playoffs

Owens didn't have his best stuff tonight.

Altoona’s ace, Rudy Owens, was originally scheduled to start this past Sunday, but was held back so that Altoona could have him start game one of the first round of the Eastern League playoffs.  Perhaps the extra rest came with some rust, as Owens didn’t have his best control tonight.

Owens didn’t allow any damage in the first, despite a leadoff walk on five pitches.  He was then helped by the Altoona offense in the bottom of the first.  Chase d’Arnaud led off with a walk, and Josh Harrison followed with a home run over the 385 foot sign to make the score 2-0 Altoona.  Miles Durham added an RBI single to make it 3-0 after the first inning.

The control issues for Owens presented a problem in the second inning, as Harrisburg scored five runs, knocking Owens out of the game before he could record a third out in the second inning. Owens led off the inning with another walk, again on five pitches.  That was followed up with a single, putting runners on first and second.  Owens got Jhonatan Solano to hit a grounder to Matt Hague, who went for a double play, but was only able to get the runner at second.  Brad Coon then connected with a two-RBI double, making the score 3-2 Altoona.

Pitcher Tom Milone hit a bouncer back to the mound, which Owens caught bare handed, getting the runner between second and third for the second out.  Owens couldn’t get out of the inning, allowing a walk to the next batter, followed by a single from Josh Johnson to load the bases.  Jesus Valdez gave Washington the lead with a two-RBI single, making it 4-3 Harrisburg, and ending the night for Owens.

Jared Hughes came on in relief, walking the first batter.  Hughes then issued a wild pitch, bringing in one more run to make it 5-3 Harrisburg, before getting a ground out to end the 2nd inning.  Owens finished with 1.2 innings pitched, four hits, five runs allowed, four of them earned, with three walks and two strikeouts.  He topped out at 93 MPH, but was mostly sitting at 90-91 MPH.

Hughes got things under control from there, getting nine outs in a row, including three strikeouts.  Hughes finished with 3.1 shutout innings, allowing just the walk.  However, the Altoona offense was also quiet, recording just one hit, and getting two base runners through the seventh inning.  Bryan Morris came on to pitch two shutout innings, allowing two hits, no walks, and striking out three.  Altoona then ran in to trouble in the eighth when Michael Dubee came on to pitch.

Dubee allowed back to back singles, then got the first out of the inning with a strikeout.  A single and a double brought two runs in, and led to an intentional walk to load the bases.  Dubee almost got out of the inning on a grounder to third.  Josh Harrison fielded the play, and went to step on third, but bobbled the ball.  Harrison got the out at third, but threw wild at first, bringing in another run.  Dubee was done after another RBI single, finishing with five runs, four earned, on five hits in just 0.2 innings.  Craig Hansen came on to get out of the inning, and also added a shutout 9th inning, with one hit allowed.

Altoona made some noise in the bottom of the 9th, down 10-3.  Anthony Norman led off with a single to left field, and moved to third when Yung-Chi Chen singled in the next at-bat.  Norman scored when Chase d’Arnaud grounded out to first.  Jordy Mercer then singled, bringing in Chen, and making it 10-5.  That was all Altoona could manage, as they ended up losing 10-5 in game one of this best of five series.

Rudy Owens took the loss, while Harrisburg starter Tom Milone got the win, pitching 5.2 innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts.  Altoona sends Jeff Locke to the mound tomorrow to try and tie the series at one game each.  The game starts at 6:30 PM, and I will be here at the park providing updates a few hours before game time.

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