BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - The Curve offense has had its share of problems for a good bit of the season, but the long ball has not been one of them.
Altoona now leads the Eastern League in homers after belting three Tuesday night, all during a seven-run third inning. The home runs carried the Curve to a 10-3 thumping of Binghamton at NYSEG Stadium.
Gift Ngoepe started the long ball barrage with a three-run shot, scoring Willy Garcia and Jarek Cunningham for a 3-1 lead. Alen Hanson tripled and scored on a double by Mel Rojas Jr., then Stetson Allie crushed a two-run homer. Keon Broxton finished off the big inning with a solo shot for a 7-1 cushion.
The Curve have hit 31 homers, taking over the top spot in the league. Allie's blast was his seventh, which is tied for third individually.
The Curve also now have moved up to fourth in the EL in runs with 167, an average of 4.6 per game.
The seven-run outburst in the third inning made it an easy night for Altoona's pitching staff, which saw the return of Zack Dodson from injury. The lefty had been out for a month with an oblique injury and gave up one run on four hits in three innings in his return.
LEADING OFF: 1B Stetson Allie hit six homers in his first 16 games but had not homered in his previous 16 games until belting a two-run shot Tuesday. His two RBIs give him 21, second on the team to Mel Rojas Jr. (27).
SAFE AT FIRST: Third on the team in RBIs is 2B Gift Ngoepe with a surprising 19 in 35 games after collecting four Tuesday. That puts Ngoepe on pace for more than 70 RBIs, which would be an astounding number, particularly given his offensive struggles last year.
STEALING SECOND: One concern at this point SS Alen Hanson's 11 errors in 33 games. He's been decent offensively (.259, 17 RBIs but only a .295 OBP), and the error total has to be a concern for the Pirates. Hanson leads the EL in errors.
ROUNDING THIRD: RHP Ryan Beckman was placed on the roster of short-season Jamestown to make room for LHP Zack Dodson to come off the DL. Beckman has had a tough season so far with a 5.27 ERA.
SAFE AT HOME: Polanco watch: OF Gregory Polanco went 4-for-4 with three RBIs Tuesday for Triple-A Indianapolis, raising his average back up to .378. Polanco had gone 1-for-16 before bouncing back with six hits in eight at-bats over the past two games.
- Cory Giger
Dodson threw 47 pitches and, rather than extend him further, Tyler Sample came on in relief and threw four innings. Sample (3-2) was credited with the win, giving up two runs on six hits and, most importantly, no walks. Sample entered the night with 23 walks to 21 strikeouts in only 21 1/3 innings.
Binghamton starter Robles (1-2) got crushed, allowing all seven runs and the three homers in the third inning.
Five Curve players collected multiple hits, including Garcia going 3-for-5. Broxton continued his hot streak with two hits, including an RBI single in the seventh, while Ngoepe, Hanson and Rojas also had two hits.
Elias Diaz had a two-run single in the fourth as the Curve stretched the lead to 9-1.
Key player: 2B Gift Ngoepe went 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs.
Key play: Ngoepe's three-run homer in the third inning ignited the Curve onslaught.
Key stat: Altoona scored seven runs in the third.
How they scored
Bottom 2nd: Lawley doubled, scored on Tovar single (0-1).
Top 3rd: Garcia doubled, Cunningham walked, both scored on Ngoepe three-run homer (3-1); Hanson tripled, scored on Rojas Jr. double (4-1); Allie two-run homer scored Rojas (6-1); Broxton solo homer (7-1).
Top 4th: Ngoepe walked, Rojas singled, both scored on Diaz single (9-1).
Bottom 6th: Lawley solo homer (9-2).
Top 7th: Broxton singled, scored on Ngoepe single (10-2).
Bottom 7th: Johnson singled, scored on Reynolds single (10-3).