BOWIE, Md. - The Curve will play at home on the Fourth of July for the fourth consecutive year, a major benefit to the franchise as the holiday typically brings in one of the largest crowds of the season to Peoples Natural Gas Field.
The Eastern League used to rotate Fourth of July games every year, so the Curve would be at home on the holiday every other season. The league now gives teams the option of being at home on July 3 or 4, and some opt for the day before the holiday.
"Some teams prefer to be away for the Fourth because their market already has another big, traditional (fireworks) show that could pre-date the team's existence there," Curve general manager Rob Egan said.
Fans who attend tonight's Curve holiday game will actually get two fireworks shows, as usual, with Lakemont Park setting off its display at 10 p.m.
"The Fourth is a priority for us," Egan, noting teams can ask the EL for preferences, said. "(It) doesn't guarantee that we'll get it, but it gives us a good chance."
The Curve drew 8,422 fans for last year's holiday game, 8,485 in 2012 and 7,920 in 2011. To show how much that kind of crowd can impact the overall attendance numbers, the Curve are averaging 3,676 fans through 39 home dates, and a crowd of 8,000 tonight would bump the average up more than 100 to nearly 3,800.
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: 1B Stetson Allie returned to the lineup Thursday after missing three games with an illness. It was perfect timing as he hit a big three-run homer in the first inning.
SAFE AT FIRST: C Carlos Paulino, who began the season in Triple-A, picked up his first hit with the Curve. It was a big one, too, as it drove home two insurance runs in the ninth for a 6-3 lead.
STEALING SECOND: Leading candidates from the Curve to be named to the Eastern League All-Star team include: C Elias Diaz (.324, five homers, 32 RBIs), RHP Adrian Sampson (6-5, 2.82 ERA), SS Alen Hanson (.270, seven homers, 41 RBIs) and RF Willy Garcia (.256, 12 homers, 39 RBIs). Diaz and Sampson are locks.
ROUNDING THIRD: INF Drew Maggi (.276, two homers, 16 RBIs) has a chance at an All-Star nod, as does Allie because of his power numbers (13 homers, 36 RBIs with .225 average).
HEADING HOME: The Curve are only 16-25 at home, barely better than their 21-33 record on the road.
It's always good to be home on the Fourth," Egan said. "Nothing better than a ballgame, a great fireworks display and not having to cook dinner if you don't want to. The atmosphere is always electric because of the huge crowd that turns out."
The team has had a rough season at 23 games below .500, but it returns home tonight coming off two straight wins at Bowie. The Curve scored three runs in the ninth inning Thursday night to break up a tie and pull out a 6-3 win at Prince George's Stadium.
Altoona appeared to go down quietly in the ninth inning as the first two batters struck out, then Keon Broxton went down swinging for what would have been the third out. The ball got away from the catcher, however, for a wild pitch, and Broxton reached base.
Willy Garcia followed with a single to put Broxton in scoring position, and Kelson Brown put the Curve on top with an RBI single. Carlos Paulino gave Altoona some insurance with a single that brought home both Garcia and Brown.
John Holdzkom (1-0), who recently joined the team from an independent league, earned his first Double-A victory with two innings of scoreless relief. He struck out three and has yet to allow a run in six innings over his first four appearances with Altoona.
Oliver Drake (2-1) took the loss in relief for Bowie.
The Curve grabbed a quick lead in the first inning as Stetson Allie belted a three-run homer, his 13th of the season. The Baysox tied it on a three-run blast of their own by Dariel Alvarez in the third off Altoona starter Zack Dodson.
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: 1B Stetson Allie had a three-run homer for all of the Curve's runs until the ninth.
Key play: 3B Kelson Brown came through with a clutch RBI single that put Altoona ahead with two outs in the ninth.
Key stat: The Curve will be at home on the Fourth of July for the fourth consecutive year.
SUBHD: How they scored
Top 1st: Hanson singled, Maggi singled, both scored on Allie three-run homer (3-0).
Bottom 3rd: Romero walked, Walker walked, both scored on Alvarez three-run homer (3-3).
Top 9th: Broxton struck out but reached on wild pitch by Drake, scored on Brown single (4-3); Garcia singled, scored along with Brown on Paulino single (6-3).