Curve rally to win
The Curve tried hard to lose Wednesday night, but Harrisburg tried even harder.
Both teams pitched poorly, kicked the ball around with bad errors and blew leads. Stetson Allie hit two homers in the first three innings for the Curve – including a grand slam – but after that the home team did very little right.
Until the ninth inning, when Harrisburg did everything wrong to give away the game.
The Curve rallied with four runs in the ninth for a 10-9 victory before 2,034 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Altoona now has a three-game winning streak, all coming against the Eastern League’s worst team as the Senators are just 4-13.
“For the most part, you’re going to get the ‘W’ because you’ve got the talent and you play well,” Curve manager Carlos Garcia said. “But sometimes you’re going to get some lucky wins like we did tonight.”
The Curve committed five errors and blew a 5-0 lead. Third baseman Andy Vasquez committed two errors on one play in the seventh inning – and three overall – to help Harrisburg score three times for a 7-5 lead.
Altoona reliever Ryan Beckman (1-1) hit two batters in the ninth, and both came around to score as the Senators stretched the margin to 9-6.
Then the wheels came off for the visitors in the bottom of the ninth.
Justin Howard led off with a homer to ignite the rally against Tyler Herron (1-1), who had about as bad of an inning as a relief pitcher can have. On the next play, Herron dropped a toss at first base for an error, allowing Alen Hanson to reach and opening the floodgates for the Curve.
Drew Maggi flew out to bring up Allie with one out and a runner at first. Herron didn’t seem to want anything to do with the slugger, who went 3-for-3 with two homers and five RBIs.
So, Herron unintentionally intentionally walked Allie on four pitches, an unusual decision because it put the tying run on base. Herron then saw his night go from bad to awful when, on a comebacker by Mel Rojas Jr., he threw over his first baseman’s head for another error.
The ball rolled deep into foul territory, allowing both Hanson and Allie to score to even up the game at 9-9.
There was still only one out, so Herron intentionally walked both Willy Garcia and Vasquez to load the bases with one out. The pitcher’s spot was due up, but Garcia sent up Elias Diaz to pinch hit.
It was a bit of a gamble by the Curve manager since Diaz was his only other catcher. Had the game gone into extra innings, starter Carlos Paulino would have been left as the Curve’s only catcher, and managers seldom want to put the team in that situation.
It didn’t matter, though, as Diaz, who’s second in the EL in hitting at .429, lofted a 2-2 pitch to deep center field for a sacrifice fly that scored Rojas with the game winner.
“I’ve got mixed feelings right now,” Garcia said of the win. “I know we are better than that.”
It was another cold night at PNG Field at 37 degrees, and Garcia said that cannot be impacting his team the way it has several times already this season.
“During my meeting [after the game],” Garcia said, “I went and talked to them about the weather sucks, no doubt about it, but you’ve got to play, you’ve got to be ready, you have to prepare yourself.
“I feel like I failed preparing them to perform in this kind of weather because I’m [the manager] and I start from myself. I felt like we didn’t focus halfway through the game and didn’t make plays that we should and allowed them to come back.”
In this case, though, Harrisburg did the same thing.
“We opened the door for them to come back in the game, and they did the same for us,” Garcia said.
Allie, who has three homers in two games, said Howard’s blast leading off the ninth gave the team the boost it needed to rally.
“Once Howie hit that home run, we all felt like we had that game,” Allie said. “We took our foot off the gas pedal a little bit, but you know what, we stepped back on it and got after it. It was just a great team win.”
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: 1B Stetson Allie went 3-for-3 with a grand slam, solo homer, double and five RBIs.
Key play: Harrisburg RHP Tyler Herron’s throwing error on a comebacker in the ninth let the tying runs score and helped the Curve to eventually win.
Key stat: Allie leads the EL with five homers.
SUBHD: How they scored
Bottom 1st: Allie solo homer (1-0).
Bottom 3rd: Kingham doubled, Hanson bunt single, Maggi walked, all three scored on Allie grand slam (5-0).
Top 5th: Gilliam reached on Cunningham error, Ramsey singled, both scored on Dykstra double (5-2); Bloxom double scored Dykstra (5-3).
Top 6th: Bantz singled, scored on Ramsey single (5-4).
Top 7th: Martinson doubled, scored on Hague fielder’s choice (5-5); Hague scored on Vasquez error (5-6); Latimore intentionally walked, scored on Benedict wild pitch (5-7).
Bottom 7th: Howard singled, scored on Rojas Jr. single (6-7).
Top 9th: Hood hit by pitch, Bantz hit by pitch, both scored on Taylor double (6-9).
Bottom 9th: Howard solo homer (7-9); Hanson reached on Herron error, Allie walked, both scored on Herron error (9-9); Rojas Jr. reached on second Herron error, scored on Diaz sacrifice fly (10-9).