Curve prevail in slugfest

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – The wildest game of the season saw the Curve put together an offensive explosion that helped them overcome a poor starting pitching effort Tuesday night.

Altoona scored five runs in the first inning, only to give up nine unanswered runs after that. But the club found a way to fight back and scored two runs in its final at-bat to steal a 10-9 win over New Britain.

The win allowed the Curve to avoid sinking a franchise-record 26 games below .500. It also reversed two of the team’s most disappointing traits this season: The club had been just 3-17 in one-run games on the road and 0-21 when trailing after eight innings on the road.

The Curve pounded out 18 hits, with every starter collecting at least one. Willy Garcia went 4-for-5, while Gift Ngoepe was 3-for-4 and four others had two hits.

Altoona needed all of that offense after starting pitcher Joan Montero had a brutal night. He allowed nine runs – eight earned – in only three innings, giving up seven hits and walking five.

Montero’s struggles gave away the 5-0 lead his offense provided him in the first inning, highlighted by a two-run homer from Dan Gamache and two-run double by Ngoepe.

New Britain scored three runs in the first, two in the second and four in the third off Montero for a 9-5 lead. The Curve bullpen slammed the door after that, with Nate Baker working three scoreless innings, Jeff Inman (2-0) two for the win and Ryan Beckman closing it out in the ninth for his fifth save.

The Curve trailed 9-8 entering the ninth and tied it on a sacrifice fly by Jarek Cunningham that scored Garcia. Ngoepe singled and stole second, then scored the go-ahead run on a single by Alen Hanson.

Beckman ran into trouble in the ninth as the Rock Cats put runners at second and third with two outs. All season long the Curve have given up big hits in those situations to lose games, but this time Beckman struck out Tony Thomas swinging to preserve the one-run win.

Matthew Summers (2-4) took the loss in relief for New Britain.

Game recap

Key player: LF Eddie Rosario went 3-for-4 with a pair of two-run homers, four RBIs and three runs for New Britain, all in a losing effort.

Key play: SS Alen Hanson’s single scored Gift Ngoepe with the go-ahead run in the ninth for the Curve.

Key stat: The Curve had 18 hits – one shy of a season high – with every starter collecting at least one and six players enjoying a multi-hit game.

How they scored

Top 1st: Hanson singled, scored on Gamache two-run homer (2-0); Bell singled, scored on Garcia double (3-0); Diaz singled, scored along with Garcia on Ngoepe double (5-0).

Bottom 1st: Rosario doubled, Vargas hit by pitch, both scored on Kvasnicka single (5-2); Rodriguez walked, scored on Hanson error (5-3).

Bottom 2nd: Hicks walked, scored on Rosario two-run homer (5-5).

Bottom 3rd: Waring singled, scored on Knudson groundout (5-6); Boyer singled, scored on Montero wild pitch (5-7); Hicks walked, scored on Rosario two-run homer (5-9).

Top 5th: Allie singled, scored on Diaz single (6-9); Vasquez doubled, scored on Garcia single (7-9); Hanson groundout scored Diaz (8-9).

Top 9th: Garcia singled, scored on Cunningham sacrifice fly (9-9); Ngoepe singled, scored on Hanson single (10-9).