Curve find a way to hold on for road victory

From Mirror reports

TRENTON, N.J. — Things got crazy in the bottom of the ninth inning once again for the Curve bullpen Thursday night, but the club still was barely able to walk away from the bizarre frame with a victory.

Altoona held on to beat Trenton, 9-7, at Arm & Hammer Park, nearly squandering all of what had been a 9-2 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. The Thunder rallied and had the tying runs in scoring position, but the Curve were able to escape the jam.

Reliever Sean Keselica had a wild ninth, walking five batters in just one-third of an inning. He was charged with all five Trenton runs in the frame, but Matt Eckelman came on and was able to retire the final out to earn his sixth save.

Logan Hill had a two-run homer and two-run double to lead the Curve, who pulled within three games of first-place Akron in the Western Division, while maintaining a three-game lead over Harrisburg for the final playoff spot. Altoona also moved back to 10 games over .500, matching a season high.

Keselica walked the bases loaded to start the ninth, then gave up a sacrifice fly that scored Trenton’s first run. The reliever then allowed an RBI single and walked the next two batters, the second with the bases loaded to force in another run that made it 9-5.

Eckelman replaced Keselica at that point and struck out the first man he faced with the bases still loaded. Rashad Crawford followed with a two-run single to pull the Thunder within 9-7, and two runners moved up a base into scoring position on a wild pitch by Eckelman.

The Curve reliever slammed the door, however, by getting an infield popup from Wendell Rijo to end the game.

Eduardo Vera (6-3) started and got the win for the Curve, giving up two runs on six hits over six innings, striking out five with no walks. Trevor Stephan (2-8) gave up seven runs — six earned — in four innings to take the loss for Trenton.

Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds had three hits apiece for Altoona, while Hill and Tyler Gaffney had two each.

SUBHD: Game recap

Key player: LF Logan Hill went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer and two-run double for the Curve.

Key play: RHP Matt Eckelman stranded the tying runs in scoring position to end the game, after Trenton had rallied for five runs in the ninth.

Key stat: The Curve have a winning record against the three teams that have the best records in the Eastern League, going 12-10 against Akron, 5-3 against Trenton and 2-1 against New Hampshire. Altoona still has one series left with the Fisher Cats and Thunder.

SUBHD: How they scored

Bottom 1st: Alvarez singled, scored on Amburgey double (0-1).

Top 3rd: Gaffney doubled, scored on Hayes groundout (1-1).

Bottom 3rd: Alvarez singled, scored on Wagner double (1-2).

Top 4th: George walked, scored on Hill two-run homer (3-2); Gaffney hit by pitch, scored on Hayes double (4-2).

Top 5th: Reynolds singled, scored on Diehl wild pitch (5-2); Craig reached on Wagner error, George walked, both scored on Hill double (7-2); Tucker sacrifice fly scored Hill (8-2).

Top 9th: Kelley singled, scored on Tucker single (9-2).

Bottom 9th: Rijo walked, scored on Surum sacrifice fly (9-3); Hendrix walked, scored on Caldwell single (9-4); Saez walked, scored on Wagner bases-loaded walk (9-5); Alvarez walked, scored along with Caldwell on Crawford single (9-7).