Curve find a way to prevail in 11th inning

Hartford still leads best ballpark voting

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Curve cashed in on a bizarre play in the 11th inning to beat Hartford in Sunday night’s game, although it appears Altoona might not be able to beat the Yard Goats for the crown of best Double-A ballpark in the country.

Tied in the 11th and with Justin Maffei on second base, Jerrick Suiter hit a comebacker to the mound. Pitcher Edison Frias threw high to Correlle Prime at first base, and even through Prime was able to come back down with the ball on the bag, Suiter crashed into him at the same time, and the first baseman dropped the ball.

It was scored an error on the pitcher, and Maffei came all the way around from second with what turned out to be the winning run in a 6-5 Curve victory.

Altoona’s Peoples Natural Gas Field and Hartford’s Dunkin’ Donuts Park are in the Double-A finals of the annual Ballpark Digest contest that lets fans vote on the best ballparks in the nation. Voting ends today at noon, and Hartford has been holding a steady lead of 53 to 47 percent for most of the weekend.

With thousands of votes cast, and people only able to vote once per day, it will be very difficult for the Curve to overtake the Yard Goats at this late stage. The Curve’s social media account was active all weekend encouraging people to vote.

The team received support from the likes of Altoona Mayor Matt Pacifico and even ROOT Sports on Twitter, but it hasn’t been enough to swing the vote in the Curve’s favor. Fans can still vote by going to BallparkDigest.com or at clicking on the link at the Curve’s Facebook page.

In Sunday’s game, the Curve grabbed a 4-1 lead before the Yard Goats fought back, tying it in the sixth inning off Altoona starter J.T. Brubaker.

The Curve pulled ahead in the 10th inning, 5-4, as Wyatt Mathisen singled home Jin-De Jhang. Hartford tied it in the bottom of the 10th against reliever Sean Keselica, who walked the leadoff batter and later gave up an RBI single to Luis Jean.

The Yard Goats had the bases loaded and one out in the 10th, but Keselica got a double play groundout that went third to home to first to escape the jam.

Maffei, who recently rejoined the Curve from Triple-A Indianapolis, was hit by a pitch from Frias (0-1) to open the 11th and later came home on the dropped ball play at first base.

Keselica (4-1) picked up the win, and Jared Lakind worked the bottom of the 11th for his second save.

Edwin Espinal went 4-for-5 with a walk and an RBI for the Curve, and Brubaker helped himself at the plate with a two-run single.

Game recap

Key player: 1B Edwin Espinal was 4-for-5 for the Curve.

Key play: An error on the pitcher in the 11th inning allowed the Curve to score the winning run.

Key stat: The Curve trail, 53 to 47 percent, in the final hours of the Ballpark Digest best Double-A ballpark contest.

How they scored

Top 1st: Suiter singled, scored on Espinal double (1-0).

Bottom 2nd: Fuentes doubled, scored on Brubaker wild pitch (1-1).

Top 4th: Jhang walked, Luplow singled, both scored on Brubaker single (3-1).

Top 5th: Newman doubled, scored on Castellani wild pitch (4-1).

Bottom 5th: Castellani singled, scored on Phillips double (4-2); Carrizales single scored Phillips (4-3).

Bottom 6th: Jean singled, scored on Thomas double (4-4).

Top 10th: Jhang reached on fielder’s choice, scored on Mathisen single (5-4).

Bottom 10th: White walked, scored on Jean single (5-5).

Top 11th: Maffei hit by pitch, scored on Frias error (6-5).

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