Curve closing in on first

MANCHEST, N.H. — The Curve are closer to first place than they’ve been in a month and a half, so winning the regular-season division title has become an attainable goal, not just making the playoffs.

Dario Agrazal and two relievers combined on a shutout, and Logan Hill’s three-run homer in the seventh inning helped carry the Curve to a 5-0 win over New Hampshire on Tuesday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

With Akron getting rained out, the Curve pulled within two games of the first-place RubberDucks in the Western Division. Altoona holds a three-game lead over Harrisburg for the division’s second playoff berth.

The Curve won the the season series against Akron, 12-10, so if the two teams were to finish tied, Altoona would be declared the higher seed for the playoff series.

The Curve not only are 12-10 against Akron, they’re now 3-1 against New Hampshire and 5-3 against Trenton. So they have a winning record against each of the three teams with the best records in the Eastern League, going a combined 20-14 against them.

Agrazal (4-3) scattered seven hits over six shutout innings, striking out two with one walk. Geoff Hartlieb followed with two innings, then Tate Scioneaux finished off the shutout.

Jordan Romano (10-7) took the loss for the Fisher Cats, giving up four runs — three earned — on eight hits over six innings.

Ke’Bryan Hayes extended his hitting streak to 15 games, the Curve’s longest of the season.

Will Craig went 3-for-4 and hit a solo homer in the eighth inning, running his RBI total to 94. He’s now just 12 shy of Adam Hyzdu’s team record of 106 set in 2000.

Hill provided the big blast as he drilled a three-run homer off Romano in the seventh to make it 4-0. Hill’s 15 homers are second on the club to Craig’s 19.

2019 schedule

The Curve released their 2019 schedule Tuesday (see page B5), and the big news is that start times will be moving up for weekday games from June through late August. Ticket prices will remain the same for the ninth consecutive season.

Standard weekday starting times in April and May will remain 6 p.m. Once June rolls around, Monday through Thursday games will start at 6:30 p.m., instead of the traditional 7 p.m. start.

“The new 6:30 summer game times Monday through Thursday allow our younger fans to stay through the end of our games but still give people enough time to get to PNG Field after work,” Curve general manager Derek Martin said in a team statement. “These times are also better for those who have to go to work the next day so they can get home at a decent time.”

The Curve will open the season April 4 at Akron as part of a seven-game road trip (four in Akron, three in Erie). The club then will play its home opener April 11 against Akron as part of a seven-game homestand (four vs. Akron, three vs. Harrisburg).

The Curve once again will be home on the Fourth of July, hosting Erie, in what is always one of the biggest nights of the season. The team will close the season with a four-game series at Harrisburg from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

The schedule once again will be 140 games, 70 at home, and has more summer home dates next year.

Game recap

Key player: RHP Dario Agrazal pitched six shutout innings to win for the Curve.

Key play: RF Logan Hill’s three-run homer in the seventh game Altoona a 4-0 lead.

Key stat: The Curve trail first-place Akron by just two games.

How they scored

Top 6th: Reyes singled, scored on Wall error (1-0).

Top 7th: Craig doubled, Jhang walked, both scored on Hill three-run homer (4-0).

Top 8th: Craig solo homer (5-0).

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