Logan’s run to the mound saves the Curve

From Mirror reports

AKRON, Ohio — One of the craziest endings in Curve history occurred Saturday night, with a position player on the mound in a crucial situation in the 10th inning trying to earn a save.

Infielder Logan Ratledge was pressed into action pitching in the bottom of the 10th with Altoona holding a two-run lead. Ratledge, throwing mostly in the 70s and dropping in some knuckleballs in the mid-60 range, wound up keeping Akron off the board and getting a save as the Curve escaped Canal Park with a 7-5 win, in a game they once trailed, 4-0.

“I knew there was going to be nothing that was going to overpower them at all,” Ratledge told Curve broadcaster Trey Wilson after the game. “I tried to go with the opposite effect of, instead of overpowering them, I tried to underpower them and lob it in there.”

Keep in mind, extra innings in the minor leagues start with a runner on second base, and despite that, Ratledge still held first-place Akron scoreless in the 10th. He even recorded a swinging strikeout.

Ratledge had made five pitching appearances in his career prior to Saturday, allowing eight runs in five innings.

“I’ve actually never been in a save situation like that,” he said. “It made it a lot more fun. I was focusing a little bit more on my pitches and actually threw a knuckleball tonight, which I’ve always had and I’ve always thrown. I’ve just never done it in a game. I threw it, and it actually worked, so it was a lot of fun.”

Position players being forced to pitch is nothing new in the minor leagues. It’s happened many times to the Curve over the years, typically when the team was trailing by a big margin, or deep into extra innings after running out of pitchers.

But having to turn to a position player to pitch the 10th inning is such an incredibly rare situation, and Saturday’s occurrence is believed to be the first time it’s ever happened to the Curve.

Why did they have to do it?

The pitching staff is down a starter because the Pirates have not replaced Mitch Keller, who was promoted to Triple-A. The Curve also had played three doubleheaders in the previous 11 days, putting a lot of stress on the entire staff.

So, Saturday was treated as a bullpen day, with reliever Tate Scioneaux getting a start and going three innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. Logan Sendelbach followed with two innings, Montana DuRapau two and Geoff Hartlieb (6-2) two while getting the win.

The Curve tied the game in the eighth on a two-run single by Jordan George, so as the game approached extra innings, manager Michael Ryan had to figure there was nothing he could do but go with a position player in extras.

“Just getting out there and giving our team a chance to get a win is an awesome feeling,” Ratledge said. “I couldn’t have been any happier the way it worked out.”

Akron gift wrapped a couple of runs for the Curve in the 10th thanks to an error on pitcher Mitch Brown (1-4), who threw wildly to second after a comebacker. That opened the door for Altoona to load the bases with one out, and Brown walked Christian Kelley to force in the go-ahead run. Stephen Alemais drove in a key insurance run with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-5.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco made a rehab start for Akron, holding the Curve to one hit over four innings with four strikeouts and one walk.

SUBHD: Game recap

Key player: Curve INF Logan Ratledge earned a save pitching the 10th inning.

Key play: A throwing error on pitcher Mitch Brown helped Altoona score twice in the 10th.

Key stat: Ratledge is believed to be the first Curve position player ever to pitch in the 10th inning.

SUBHD: How they scored

Bottom 2nd: Castro singled, scored on Marabell double (0-1); Mathias two-run homer scored Marabell (0-3); Calica singled, scored on Tom double (0-4).

Top 6th: Tucker reached on Bradley error, scored on Hayes triple (1-4); Reynolds walked, scored along with Hayes on Craig single (3-4).

Bottom 6th: Krieger singled, scored on Sever single (3-5).

Top 8th: Hayes singled, Reynolds walked, both scored on George single (5-5).

Top 10th: Reynolds started on second, scored on Kelley bases-loaded walk (6-5); George walked, scored on Alemais sacrifice fly (7-5).