ERIE -- The Curve caught bad breaks by only a few inches on three different plays, and had any one of them turned out differently the club finally may have won a season opener on the road for the first time ever.
Instead, Erie thrilled its fans with a walk-off 3-2 victory in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday night at Jerry Uht Park, dropping Altoona to 0-7 all-time when it opens away from home.
"The difference in the game is six inches," Curve manager P.J. Forbes said.
The final close play ended the game as Erie's Bryan Holaday smacked a two-out RBI single to left off reliever Michael Dubee (0-1) that scored pinch-runner Justin Henry from third. Curve left fielder Quincy Latimore just missed grabbing the sinking liner as the ball bounced in front of his glove.
"Six inches more, Quincy catches it," Forbes said.
"I think Quincy was a little fooled when it came off the bat; had a little topspin on it," the manager added.
The Curve were still in the game at that point thanks to Latimore. He barely missed a grand slam in the eighth inning as he blasted a ball high off the wall in left field, scoring Brock Holt and Starling Marte to tie it at 2-2.
The Curve hitters did nothing for six innings against Erie starter Jacob Turner, one of the best pitching prospects in the minor leagues, and they were shut out for the first seven frames.
They got things going in the eighth as Holt and Marte walked off reliever Matt Hoffman and moved up a base on Jordy Mercer's sacrifice bunt. Tony Sanchez walked to load the bases with one out before Miles Durham struck out against Lester Oliveros (1-0).
That brought up Latimore, who drove in 100 runs last season at Single-A Bradenton and wasted little time making an impact this season with the two-run double.
"That was Quincy doing what Quincy does right there," Curve third baseman Jeremy Farrell said. "He got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it."
The other close play that went against the Curve came just seconds after Latimore's tying hit.
Farrell drilled a liner to center that would have scored two runs had it dropped, but Erie center fielder Jamie Johnson made a nice running catch over his shoulder to keep things tied.
"That ball Farrell hit, six inches more it's over his head," Forbes said.
Altoona starter Bryan Morris struggled with his control, walking five in 4 1/3 innings, but still managed to take a shutout into the fifth. He gave up a one-out walk to Deik Scram in that inning, then Ben Guez smacked a two-run homer to left.
"The beginning of the game I felt really good, I had a lot of rhythm," said Morris, who allowed four hits and struck out three. "The fourth and fifth innings I kind of lost that rhythm. That kind of comes day one. I'm just gonna go out and start working so I keep the rhythm all the way through the game."
Turner turned in a brilliant Double-A debut for the SeaWolves. The 19-year-old allowed just two hits, struck out nine and walked one in his six shutout innings.
The No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Turner received a $5.5 million major league contract that included a $4.7 million signing bonus, the most ever given to a high school player. He kept Curve hitters off balance with a nasty and sharp-breaking two-seamer that he relied on heavily, especially with two strikes.
"Definitely a good start to the season," Turner said. "I felt comfortable coming out of spring training, and I worked on what I needed to work on tonight. My mechanics were good, and I thought it was a great start to the year."
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: Erie RHP Jacob Turner pitched six shutout innings, allowing two hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.
Key play: Curve OF Quincy Latimore doubled home two runs in the eighth inning to tie the game but just missed a grand slam as the ball hit high off the wall in left.
Key stat: The Curve are 0-7 all-time when they open a season on the road.
SUBHD: How they scored
Bottom 5th: Scram walked, scored on Guez two-run homer (0-2).
Top 8th: Holt walked, Marte walked, both scored on Latimore double (2-2).
Bottom 9th: Bertram singled, pinch-runner Henry scored on Holaday single (2-3).