Squirrels sweep Altoona

RICHMOND, Va. – The Curve’s season has fallen apart, thanks to a dreadful road trip that saw the club drop six in a row.

The last two of those came Thursday night against Richmond in a makeshift doubleheader at The Diamond. The Curve fell, 5-4, in the completion of Wednesday’s suspended game, then went down in walk-off fashion in extra innings, 6-3, on a three-run homer.

Pinch-hitter Ricky Oropesa smacked the three-run blast in the eighth inning off Jhonathan Ramos (1-3) to give the Flying Squirrels a sweep of the three-game series. Just like Akron, Richmond has killed the Curve this season, with a 10-3 record.

Altoona returns home tonight ready to try and solve some of its many problems. From numerous blown saves, to a lack of timely hitting, to porous defense, the Curve have done very few things that a quality team must do to win consistently.

The team has dropped to a season-high 13 games below .500, which includes an 8-19 record on the road. The Curve have played better at home, although they still have a losing record of 12-14 at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

Jarek Cunningham hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning of the second game to give the Curve a 3-2 lead. But Richmond tied it in the fifth off lefty starter Joely Rodriguez, and with the game turned over to the bullpens, Altoona’s hopes dropped dramatically.

Derek Law (2-0) won in relief for the Flying Squirrels.

The night began with the resumption of Wednesday’s suspended game and the teams tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the fifth inning. The Curve’s Tyler Sample had a rough outing as he had no command.

Sample walked Jarrett Parker, who stole second. Sample then walked Tyler Graham and gave up a bunt single to Kelby Tomlinson to load the bases. Matt Duffy singled home two runs to give Richmond the lead, then Sample walked Angel Villalona and was lifted without retiring a batter.

Two more runs came home against reliever Brandon Mann, both charged to Sample (3-3), who allowed four runs all told and saw his ERA balloon to 6.09. Sample’s control issues continue to be a major concern for the Curve and Pirates as he’s issued 28 walks with only 28 strikeouts in just 34 innings.

Altoona made a charge in its last at-bat as Mel Rojas Jr. hit a three-run homer with two outs to make it 5-4, but that’s as close as it got.

Richmond starter Kelvin Marte (3-2) gave up one run in five innings for the win.

SUBHD: Doubleheader recap

Key players: Rather than giving it to a Richmond player, Curve RHP Tyler Sample gave the Flying Squirrels a chance to win the opener with poor control; PH Ricky Oropesa hit a walk-off three-run homer in game two.

Key plays: Sample walked three and didn’t retire a batter in giving up four runs in the fifth inning of game one; Oropesa’s homer gave Richmond the three-game sweep.

Key stat: The Curve have lost six in a row.

SUBHD: How they scored

First game

Top 1st: Ngoepe doubled, scored on Rojas Jr. double play groundout (1-0).

Bottom 4th: Harris solo homer (1-1).

Bottom 5th: Parker walked, Graham walked, both scored on Duffy single (1-3); Tomlinson singled, scored on Harris hit by pitch with bases loaded (1-4); Duffy singled, scored on Schroder sacrifice fly (1-5).

Top 9th: Cunningham doubled, Ngoepe singled, both scored on Rojas three-run homer (4-5).

Second game

Bottom 1st: Tomlinson walked, scored on Duffy triple (0-1); Lisson single scored Duffy (0-2).

Top 4th: Broxton tripled, Allie walked, both scored on Cunningham three-run homer (3-2).

Bottom 5th: Duffy singled, scored on Harris bases-loaded walk (3-3).

Bottom 8th: Parker doubled, LaTorre walked, both scored on Oropesa three-run homer (3-6).