HARRISBURG -- The Curve pulled off the greatest, most bizarre comeback in franchise history Saturday night, setting numerous offensive records and beating Harrisburg on a controversial home run call that even broadcaster Dan Zangrilli said was blown by the umpires.
It was, without a doubt, the wildest game the franchise has ever seen.
Where to begin?
Altoona trailed by six runs entering the ninth inning, then tied a franchise record with 10 runs in one frame. The Curve also tied a record for runs in a game as they posted an improbable 18-15 win at Metro Bank Park.
The game was tied at 14 when Matt Hague launched a three-run homer to left field that gave the Curve a 17-14 lead.
But was it a home run?
The Harrisburg camp went nuts when home plate umpire Doug Vines called the bending ball by Hague fair. Manager Randy Knorr and pitcher Aaron Thompson wound up getting ejected arguing the call as the Senators' fans loudly voiced their frustration with deafening boos.
Zangrilli pulled no punches on the truth about the call.
"The ball was foul. The Curve get the call. A three-run homer," Zangrilli said on the Curve Radio Network.
Zangrilli was certain and repeated his view of the call several times.
"As much as we'd like to think so, as much as we wanted it to be fair, it just wasn't," he said on the air.
The Curve scored nine runs before any outs were recorded in the ninth. They collected 20 hits in the game, just one shy of the franchise record.
It was the highest-scoring game (33 runs) and longest nine-inning game (4 hours, 33 minutes) in Curve history.
In the ninth, they sent 15 men to the plate, scored the 10 runs on eight hits, one error and three homers.
The Curve trailed 14-8 entering the ninth before getting a Jordy Mercer walk and two-run homer from Hector Gimenez. A walk by Miles Durham and two-run homer from pinch-hitter Brandon Jones made things interesting at 14-12.
The hit parade continued, with Gorkys Hernandez singling home Anthony Norman and Josh Harrison tying it with a single that scored Chase d'Arnaud.
Hague came up with two runners on and launched his controversial homer to left to make it 17-14. Altoona scored its 10th run of the inning when Durham doubled home Mercer.
Ramon Aguero (1-3) won in relief for Altoona, while Jack Spradlin (0-1) took the loss.
Hernandez went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. Gimenez was 4-for-5, every position player who started had at least one hit for Altoona and all but Yung Chi-Chen had at least two hits.
Harrisburg's 15 runs were the most allowed by Altoona this season, easily surpassing the previous high of 11. Ironically, these are the top two pitching teams in the league, with the Curve leading the EL in team ERA (3.42) and the Senators ranking second (3.47) entering the game.
Curve starter Bryan Morris struggled, and usually reliable reliever Michael Dubee had a forgettable night and gave up a late lead.
The Curve fell behind 4-0 but battled back to take a 7-6 lead on Durham's three-run homer in the seventh. The Senators came right back, though, with five runs -- four earned -- off Dubee in their half of the inning.
Dubee entered the game with a 1.79 ERA and hadn't allowed a run in 11 2/3 innings, but he retired only one batter. He encountered tough luck when a groundball that may have been an inning-ending double play took a bad hop over first baseman Hague for a single by Michael Martinez.
That hit gave the Senators an 8-7 lead, and they poured it on against Dubee after that to make it 11-7. Harrisburg added three more runs in the eighth off reliever Anthony Claggett for a 14-8 cushion.
Morris was roughed up for a third straight start, giving up six runs in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed five hits, walked four and struck out three.
Morris gave up four runs in two innings his last time out and five runs -- four earned -- in six innings the time before that. He has now allowed 15 runs -- 14 earned -- in 12 2/3 innings over his past three starts.
John Lannan, who was recently demoted from the Washington Nationals back to Double-A, started for Harrisburg and could not protect his early 4-0 lead. He allowed four runs -- only one earned -- on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: C Hector Gimenez went 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs for the Curve.
Key play: 1B Matt Hague hit a controversial three-run homer that was ruled fair for a 17-14 lead in the ninth.
Key stat: The Curve scored 10 runs in the ninth, tying a franchise record, and matched another one with 18 runs in the game.
SUBHD: How they scored
Bottom 1st: Espinosa walked, Valdez walked, both scored on Marrero double (0-2).
Bottom 3rd: Espinosa singled, scored on Lowrance two-run homer (0-4).
Top 4th: Gimenez doubled, scored on Chen single (1-4).
Top 5th: d'Arnaud hit by pitch, Hernandez reached on Martinez error, both scored on Mercer double (3-4); Gimenez single scored Mercer (4-4).
Bottom 5th: Kimball doubled, scored on Valdez single (4-5); Valdez scored on Molleken wild pitch (4-6).
Top 7th: Hague reached on fielder's choice, Gimenez walked, both scored on Durham three-run homer (7-6).
Bottom 7th: Espinosa singled, scored on Valdez double (7-7); Valdez doubled, scored on Martinez single (7-8); Marrero walked, scored along with Martinez on Pahuta double (7-10); Solano single scored Pahuta (7-11).
Top 8th: Norman solo homer (8-11).
Bottom 8th: Espinosa singled, scored on Valdez double (8-12); Lowrance singled, scored on Marrero groundout (8-13); Pahuta sacrifice fly scored Valdez (8-14).
Top 9th: Mercer walked, scored on Gimenez two-run homer (10-14); Durham walked, scored on Jones two-run homer (12-14); Norman reached on Martinez error, scored on Hernandez single (13-14); d'Arnaud singled, scored on Harrison single (14-14); Hague three-run homer scored Harrison and Hernandez (17-14); Mercer singled, scored on Durham double (18-14).
Bottom 9th: Fox doubled, scored on Lowrance sacrifice fly (18-15).