Curve bullpen fails to hold lead in ninth

HARRISBURG — There were extenuating circumstances this time with heavy rain falling, but the Curve bullpen let another lead slip away in a costly loss Thursday night.

Altoona took a one-run lead into the ninth inning, only to see Harrisburg score twice for a 4-3 walk-off win at FNB Field. The Senators took two of three games in the series and pulled within two games of the Curve for the final playoff spot in the Western Division.

Tate Scioneaux came on in relief trying to close things out in the ninth inning with a 3-2 lead. As rain fell, Scioneaux walked Austin Davidson to start the frame, gave up a single to Taylor Gushue and walked Zach Collier to load the bases with no outs.

It was pouring at that time, so the umpires stopped the action and had the grounds crew bring out the tarp. In just a couple of minutes, however, the rain stopped, so the tarp was removed and play resumed after a brief 10-minute delay.

Dan Gamache tied the game for Harrisburg with an RBI groundout to shortstop. Scioneaux intentionally walked Alec Keller to reload the bases with one out, then Daniel Johnson singled to center to bring in Gushue with the game winner.

Scioneaux (2-2) took the loss and was handed his second blown save in eight opportunities. The Curve bullpen has now blown 18 saves in 45 chances, a whopping 40 percent.

Jordan Mills (1-1) won in relief for Harrisburg.

Bryan Reynolds had a big night for the Curve, going 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and two runs. His homer gave Altoona an early 2-0 lead in the third, and after the Senators tied it in the fourth, Will Craig’s RBI single in the fifth put the Curve back on top, 3-2.

The fault doesn’t fall entirely on the bullpen. While Reynolds had three hits, the rest of the offense had only four and wasn’t able to get separation from the Senators.

The Curve return home tonight to begin a three-game series against division-leading Akron, which holds a six-game lead. A sweep by Altoona would trim that deficit in half, but the RubberDucks are tough on the road, with a 32-23 record.

SUBHD: Game recap

Key player: CF Bryan Reynolds went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer for the Curve.

Key play: Harrisburg scored twice in the ninth and walked it off an an RBI single by CF Daniel Johnson.

Key stat: The Curve bullpen has 18 blown saves in 45 opportunities.

SUBHD: How they scored

Top 3rd: Hayes doubled, scored on Reynolds two-run homer (2-0).

Bottom 4th: Johnson doubled, scored on Tucker error that allowed Noll to reach (2-1); Davidson double scored Noll (2-2).

Top 5th: Reynolds doubled, scored on Craig single (3-2).

Bottom 9th: Davidson walked, scored on Gamache groundout (3-3); Gushue singled, scored on Johnson single (3-4).