Jarek Cunningham won the long drive competition during the annual Curve Booster Club's golf tournament on Monday.
Cunningham's deep shot Thursday at Peoples Natural Gas Field was a little more significant.
With two outs, a pair of runners on and the Curve trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth inning, Cunningham drilled a double to the wall that scored Robbie Grossman and Brock Holt and capped off a six-run final inning rally to give Altoona a 7-6 win over Trenton.
"I'd have to say this hit was more important to me [than winning the long drive title]," said Cunningham with a smile. "The drive was a lot of fun, too, but it was awesome to be in that situation tonight and be able to come through."
Prior to the ninth inning, Cunningham's night had been similar to most of his Curve teammates.
The second baseman was 0-for-4 headed into his final at bat, and through 8 innings, the Curve trailed, 6-1. Before Thursday, Altoona was 0-24 when trailing after eight innings this season.
Tonight: Altoona Curve at Binghamton Mets, 7:05 p.m.
Pitching matchup: Curve RHP Brandon Cumpton (7-4) vs. Mets RHP Gonzalez Germen (2-4)
"I was working on something all day," Cunningham said. "[Curve hitting coach] Ryan Long told me right before I went up to look for something out over the plate, and I got it."
The Thunder hitters looked much like their big-league counterparts the New York Yankees early in the game against Curve starter Nathan Baker.
Cody Johnson and Zoilo Almonte homered as Trenton scored at least one run in each of the first four innings.
Matt McSwain relieved Baker with men on first and second in the fifth inning and got a groundout to keep the deficit at five. McSwain pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and Jhonathan Ramos and Jeff Inman (1-1) both threw one spotless frame.
"The first thing I said to the team after the game is 'that is why we keep pitching and why we keep playing defense,'" Curve manager P.J. Forbes said. "They give us a chance doing that. We showed tonight that there are games we aren't out of. That's why we play nine.
"Those last three outs are the hardest to get in baseball. That's why they pay those closers in the big leagues the big money."
Ramon Cabrera started the ninth-inning rally with a one-out single. The Curve drew three straight walks off a pair of Trenton pitchers before Elevys Gonzalez hit a ball up the middle that went under Thunder shortstop Addison Maruszak's glove for an error.
With Altoona down a run, Gonzalez was picked off first base.
"That can't happen," Forbes said. "It just can't happen. You are the tying run, and you cannot get picked off in that situation."
Just when it appeared the Curve's rally had come up just short, Grossman doubled and Holt walked to set up Cunningham's heroics.
"It would have been very easy, after the night he was having, to get down on himself," Forbes said regarding Cunningham. "He didn't allow that to happen. He got ready to hit, put a good swing on it, and when you do that good things happen."
Key player: Robbie Grossman was 3-for-5, kept Altoona's rally alive in the ninth with a double and scored the tying run.
Key play: Jarek Cunningham hit a game-winning two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Key stat: Altoona's bullpen tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings.
How they scored
Top 1st: Abraham Almonte doubled, scored when Melky Mesa reached on catcher's inference with bases loaded. (0-1).
Bottom 1st: Brock Holt reached on fielder's choice, scored on Miles Durham double (1-1).
Top 2nd: Jose Gil walked and Addison Maruszak singled. Gil scored on Jose Pirela's single. Maruszak scored on Zoilo Almonte sacrifice fly. (1-3).
Top 3rd: Cody Johnson homered. (1-4).
Top 4th: Pirela singled, scored on Z. Almonte home run (1-6).
Bottom 9th: Ramon Cabrera singled. Quincy Latimore and Anthony Norman walked. Cabrera scored on Jeremy Farrell walk. Latimore and Norman scored when Elevys Gonzalez reached on an error. Robbie Grossman doubled, and Holt walked. Both scored on Cunningham double (7-6).