Curve in position to clinch tonight

From Mirror reports

BOWIE, Md. — The Curve’s magic number to win a division title is down to two, and the club can pull it off with a victory tonight and a loss by Akron at Erie.

Altoona received some clutch relief pitching to stay in Friday night’s game at Bowie, then the offense exploded in the 11th inning for a 9-5 win at Prince George’s Stadium.

The Curve lead Akron by one game in the Western Division with three games to play. If the two clubs finish tied, Altoona would be the top seed and have home-field advantage over the RubberDucks in next week’s playoffs.

The Curve led 3-0 Friday before Bowie rallied for a 4-3 lead. Jin-De Jhang went 4-for-5 with four RBIs, and he tied the game in the eighth with a double that scored Ke’Bryan Hayes.

Reliever Sean Keselica got out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning, and Matt Eckelman wiggled out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the ninth to keep things tied at 4-4.

The Baysox had the winning run on third base with one out in the 10th, but once again Eckelman escaped to keep the Curve alive.

In the 11th, Tyler Gaffney doubled home Logan Hill and Christian Kelley for a 6-4 lead, and the Curve poured it on from there. Gaffney scored on an error, Hayes singled home a run and Jhang drove in his fourth run with a single to make it 9-4. Hayes went 4-for-6 with three runs and an RBI.

Eckelman (1-1) earned his first Double-A victory, while Chris Lee (1-1) took the loss for Bowie.

Will Craig drove in his 99th run of the season for the Curve. He had a couple of opportunities to drive in his 100th run with a man in scoring position but couldn’t deliver.

The Curve will have their best pitcher of late, Eduardo Vera, on the mound tonight looking to clinch. Vera is 7-0 in his last nine starts and is the reigning Eastern League pitcher of the week.

Game recap

Key player: DH Jin-De Jhang went 4-for-5 with four RBIs for the Curve.

Key play: Curve relievers worked out of bases-loaded jams in the eighth and ninth, then stranded the tying run on third in the 10th before the offense erupted for five runs in the 11th.

Key stat: The Curve’s magic number is two for clinching their second straight Western Division title.

How they scored

Top 1st: Hayes singled, scored on Craig groundout (1-0).

Top 3rd: Hayes singled, Reynolds walked, both scored on Jhang double (3-0).

Bottom 3rd: Bannon doubled, scored on Salcedo double (3-1); Mountcastle single scored Salcedo (3-2).

Bottom 6th: Rodriguez singled, scored on Diaz two-run homer (3-4).

Top 8th: Hayes singled, scored on Jhang double (4-4).

Top 11th: Hill started on second, Kelley walked, both scored on Gaffney double (6-4); Reyes singled and Mountcastle error scored Gaffney (7-4); Hayes single scored Reyes (8-4); Alemais singled, scored on Jhang single (9-4).

Bottom 11th: Salcedo started on second, scored on Joseph single (9-5).

Next stop

Tonight: Altoona at Bowie, 6:35 p.m.

Pitchers: Curve RHP Eduardo Vera (8-3, 3.86) vs. Baysox RHP Dillon Tate (7-5, 4.13)

Record: 76-59

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