Reynolds’ walk-off homer lifts Curve
Following a unique, up and down roadtrip that featured more delays, postponement and rain than anyone cared for, the Curve celebrated their return home in walk-off fashion of an equally up and down contest.
A three-run Bryan Reynolds home run in the ninth with the Curve trailing by two propelled Altoona to an 8-7 victory in a back-and-forth contest Thursday night that featured six lead changes and a combined 26 hits in front of 6,569 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
“I knew he threw pretty hard,” Reynolds said. “The first pitch was a changeup away, so I figured he probably wouldn’t double up. Next pitch, I got the fastball in I expected and put the barrel on it.”
Altoona’s bullpen was once again the culprit for the deficit it found itself in as new member of the Curve pitching staff, Nick Burdi, blew his first save opportunity in his second appearance for Altoona after being promoted from high-A Bradenton on a rehab assignment.
Burdi struggled to finish two innings of relief as he gave up three runs and five hits, walked one batter and hit another.
“(Burdi’s) going to have one more game with us and then make his way to Indianapolis at some point after that,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said. “He’ll throw one more time with us, I believe for the first game in Harrisburg.”
The Curve bullpen was called upon relatively early as starting pitcher Austin Coley went 4ª deep in his third start since coming off the disabled list earlier this month. Thursday’s start was the longest Coley has gone since his return.
“We were trying to get him through five (innings),” Ryan said. “That’s exactly what we did. We’re getting to the point where we can build him up and get him into the sixth the next game.”
Sean Keselica helped save Coley’s scoreline to just eight hits and three earned runs as Keselica came on to strand a pair of Binghamton runners. The relief pitcher even used his bat in his best effort to pick up a win as the left-hander picked up an RBI to tie the game in the fifth.
“The box score doesn’t indicate how well (Coley) did throw,” Ryan said. “It’s just a matter of the location of his pitches. Tonight he threw what he wanted to, when he wanted to. The next step is just location and execution.”
Keselica’s sixth inning on the mound was the only inning of the game that Binghamton failed to record a hit or leave a runner on base.
Yeudy Garcia (2-4) worked the ninth with a pair of strikeouts and one earned run to record the win.
Ryder Ryan (1-1) came on in relief of Binghamton starter Scott Copeland who went seven innings and allowed four runs in his 13th start. Ryan allowed a solo shot from Will Craig in the eighth, before eventually surrendering the decisive Reynolds blast to end the game.
Despite Craig’s three-strikeout game Wednesday in Akron, Craig has been on an offensive tear, hitting five home runs in his last eight games and pushing his Eastern League-leading RBI total to 81.
The walk-off win follows what was a less-than-ideal six-day roadtrip that was plagued by Mother Nature, but the Curve manager was the least bit surprised to see his team bounce back.
“We played with a lot of energy tonight,”Ryan said. “This team does a really good job at putting things in the past, being where their feet are and what they are doing that day. It showed tonight.”
With a crucial series against Harrisburg just days away, the walk-off win has Altoona trending in the right direction to make a playoff push and attempt at repeating as Eastern League champions.
“We are in a good situation,” Reynolds said. “We’re swinging the bats well throughout. Pitching is on track, doing well. I think we have all the pieces we need.”
Key player: CF Bryan Reynolds was 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs and a home run
Key play: Reynolds’ walk-off three-run homer.
Key stat: The Curve have won seven of 10 since July 18.
How they scored
Top 4th: Toffey singled, scored on Biondi single (0-1).
Bottom 4th: Reynolds reached on fielder’s choice, Craig hit by pitch, both scored on Kelley single (2-1).
Top 5th: Gimenez reached on fielder’s choice, scored on Taylor groundout (2-2); Terdoslavich doubled, scored on Nido single (2-3).
Bottom 5th: Reyes doubled, scored on Keselica single (3-3).
Bottom 6th: Kelley doubled, scored on wild pitch (4-3).
Top 7th: Gimenez singled, scored on Nido groundout (4-4).
Top 8th: Urena singled, Michael hit by pitch, both scored on Gimenez single (4-6).
Bottom 8th: Will Craig solo homer (5-6).
Top 9th: Nido singled, scored on Biondi single (5-7).
Bottom 9th: Gaffney hit by pitch, Tucker walked, both scored on Reynolds three-run homer (8-7).
Tonight: Binghamton at Altoona, 7 p.m.
Pitchers: Rumble Pony RHP Mickey Jannis (6-5, 4.61) vs Curve LHP Taylor Hearn (3-5, 3.03)