Curve swept on a long night

The Curve can’t play lowly Harrisburg every game, and so far that’s been a big problem.

Altoona was swept by Akron in a doubleheader Saturday night, 9-7 and 2-1, dropping the club to a season-high five games below .500 at 11-16. But basically all the success the Curve have had has come against the Eastern League’s worst team, Harrisburg, while they haven’t had much good happen against anyone else.

The Curve are 5-1 against the Senators, who are only 8-18 this season. Conversely, Altoona is 6-15 against the other three teams it’s played: Akron (2-6), Richmond (2-5) and Erie (2-4).

Saturday’s doubleheader lasted more than seven hours at Peoples Natural Gas Field, and only a handful of the 4,011 fans remained when things finally ended at 11:43 p.m.

The Curve had a chance to make the night last even longer as they nearly tied the second game in the sixth inning. Trailing 2-1, Mel Rojas Jr. singled with two outs and tried to score from first on Justin Howard’s double to right.

Akron put together a perfect relay, though, and Rojas was thrown out at the plate by first baseman Ronny Rodriguez.

The RubberDucks held on as Kyle Crockett pitched a perfect ninth to earn his second save.

Justin Toole drove home both Akron runs with a double in the second inning for a 2-1 lead. The Curve had scored first in their opening at-bat when Alen Hanson came home on a groundout by Stetson Allie.

Duke von Schamann (1-0) won for Akron, giving up just one unearned run on six hits in six innings. Brandon Mann (1-3) allowed two runs in four innings for the loss.

The Curve sent Eastern League ERA leader Tyler Sample to the mound in the opener, and while he’s struggled with his control all season, it hurt him the most Saturday.

Sample had a 1.00 ERA coming in but had walked 16 in 18 innings. The control problems finally caught up with him as he walked four and hit another, although it wasn’t a pitch that did the most damage.

Akron led, 3-2, and had the bases loaded with no outs in the third inning when Sample fielded an easy comebacker off the bat of Tony Wolters. Sample would have had a 1-2-3 double play, but his throw to the plate was low and to the right of catcher Elias Diaz, allowing two runs to score for a 5-3 lead as the ball went to the backstop.

The RubberDucks added another run to make it 6-3, then scored three more in the sixth for a 9-3 cushion.

Just as they did Friday night, the Curve nearly rallied back from a big deficit before falling just short.

Jarek Cunningham and Alen Hanson had RBI singles and Andy Vasquez a run-scoring double as Altoona scored four runs in the sixth. Stetson Allie came up with the tying runs on at first and third but struck out swinging as Akron held on to a two-run lead.

RubberDucks starter Gabriel Arias (3-2) picked up the win, giving up three runs in five innings, while Tyler Sturdevant (3) earned the save.

Sample (2-1) allowed six runs – four earned – on five hits as his ERA rose to 2.57.

Rojas went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, while Hanson also was 3-for-4 for the Curve.

Doubleheader recap

Key players: Akron CF Tyler Naquin went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the first game, and 3B Justin Toole had a two-run double in the second.

Key plays: Curve RHP Tyler Sample committed a costly error that let two runs score as Akron took a 5-3 lead in the third inning of the first game, and Toole’s hit accounted for all of the RubberDucks’ runs in the nightcap.

Key stat: The Curve are 6-15 against teams other than Harrisburg. They’re 5-1 against the Senators.

How they scored

First game

Bottom 1st: Hanson doubled, Ngoepe walked, both scored on Rojas Jr. double (2-0).

Top 2nd: Myles walked, scored on Rodriguez single (2-1); Wolters singled, scored on Naquin sacrifice fly (2-2); Smith hit by pitch, scored on Holt single (2-3).

Top 3rd: LaHair walked, Wendle singled, both scored on Wolters fielder’s choice and Sample error (2-5); Myles singled, scored on Naquin sacrifice fly (2-6).

Bottom 3rd: Maggi walked, scored on Rojas single (3-6).

Top 6th: Naquin singled, Holt singled, both scored on Lindor single (3-8); Myles triple scored Lindor (3-9).

Bottom 6th: Rojas singled, scored on Cunningham single (4-9); Vasquez doubled, scored on Maggi bases-loaded walk (5-9); Hanson single scored Cunningham (6-9); Broxton walked, scored on Ngoepe groundout (7-9).

Second game

Bottom 1st: Hanson walked, scored on Allie groundout (1-0).

Top 2nd: Myles singled, Lavisky walked, both scored on Toole double (1-2).