By Matt Michelone
For the Mirror
Dan Gamache was set to break spring training with the Curve, but an ankle injury kept him out of action for three months.
On July 7, he made his Double-A debut, and he has been one of the most reliable hitters in the lineup. He's hitting .338 with three homers and 15 RBIs.
Wednesday afternoon, he knocked in a critical run on a single, scoring Drew Maggi, as the Curve doubled up Erie, 6-3, before 4,588 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Gamache has registered a hit in his last six games, five of which are multi-hit games. He went 2-for-3 with the RBI Wednesday.
Covering The Bases
LEADING OFF: The Curve will finish July with their first winning month since last July. They're 17-13 this month, and start a four game series with Richmond tonight.
SAFE AT FIRST: Willy Garcia is now just one outfield assist away from tying the franchise record. He has 17, and the top mark is held by Starling Marte (18), set back in 2011.
STEALING SECOND: Garcia is not just dominating in the field, he's doing so at the plate. He is on a 10-game hitting streak. He is now 27-for-71 with an exceptional .380 batting average in his last 19 games.
ROUNDING THIRD: SS Gift Ngoepe is looking to cap off a huge July at the plate. This month he is hitting .333 with four home runs and 14 RBIs. That is after a disappointing joining when he had a .189 average.
HEADING HOME: The Curve won their third straight series and and did so against an Erie team that they are 7-12 against this season. They're 7-3 in their last 10 games.
- Matt Michelone
Tonight: Richmond at Altoona, 7 p.m.
Pitchers: Flying Squirrels RHP Kyle Crick (6-5, 3.09) vs. Curve LHP Zack Dodson (3-7, 5.25)
"He can hit, and now we just have to find a way to keep him in the lineup because he's a good offensive player," Curve manager Carlos Garcia said.
Gamache is enjoying a breakout year after hitting near his averages at Single-A Bradenton. He hit .258 with the Marauders with five homers and 54 RBIs.
"It's staying in your zone, going up there with a plan," Gamache said of his success. "Double-A you got a smaller strike zone that you can work with."
That has also come with a change in the type of pitchers he has faced. It is even more important as Double-A pitchers are focusing on developing new pitches.
"They mix up more, especially where you're hitting in the lineup, what the situation is." Gamache said. "They'll throw some more breaking balls and more change ups."
This Curve lineup lost one of its most reliable hitters in May when Mel Rojas, Jr. was promoted to Indianapolis, leaving the Curve looking for a guy to fill the void. Garcia knows that having guys like him can help a team that isn't able to outhit every opponent.
"It's important everybody steps up," he said. "We're not a team that's going to outslug everybody. Defensively we need to not give more than four outs an inning, and play the little game."
The Curve bats got enough power to keep up with the SeaWolves. Josh Bell started the scoring with a groundout, driving in Alen Hanson.
Erie tied it up in the third on a groundout, but the Curve responded by getting three runs off players who reached on walks.
Gift Ngoepe scored after his free pass, and a balk by Warwick Saupold, on Josh Bell's single to put the Curve ahead for good.
The Curve put the game away courtesy of Carlos Paulino's sacrifice fly scoring Gamache in the sixth. Keon Broxton capped off the frame stealing home.
Thomas Harlan (2-1) has continued his smooth transition to the Double-A level, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, striking out five and didn't issue a walk.
"I was waiting for him to have that kind of outing," Garcia said. "He's matched up very well against this team, and defensively we played well."
Saupold (7-9) had a solid afternoon for the SeaWolves, going five innings, giving up two runs on five hits, three walks and four strikeouts.
Key Player: DH Dan Gamache went 2-for-3, and drove in the crucial fifth run in the seventh to give the Curve the win.
Key Play: Erie C Craig Albernaz' groundout in the seventh ended the SeaWolves' best chance to tie the game.
Key Stat: The Curve are 10-15 in day games.
How they scored
Bot 1st: Hanson singled, scored on Bell groundout (1-0).
Top 3rd: Machado singled, scored on Albernaz groundout (1-1).
Bot 5th: Ngoepe walked, scored on Bell single (2-1).
Bot 6th: Gamache walked, scored on Paulino sacrifice fly (3-1); Broxton walked, stole home (4-1).
Top 7th: Cabrera reached on wild pitch, scored on Krizan groundout (4-2).
Bot 7th: Maggi walked, scored on Gamache single (5-2); Gamache scored on Broxton single (6-2).
Top 9th: Green doubled, scored on Lemon sacrifice fly (6-3).