Two late homers propel Curve

BOWIE, Md. — Another day, another comeback for the Curve.

This time, though, it resulted in a win.

After another crushing 7-6, extra innings defeat at the hands of Bowie on Saturday night, the Curve were able to pull off another late rally and top the Baysox, 8-6, Sunday afternoon.

Chris Sharpe’s two-run home run to left field in the top of the ninth gave Altoona its first lead of the day and capped off a two-inning display that saw the Curve score five runs.

It wasn’t the first time Sharpe has been the hero for the Curve as he had a walk-off single in the second game of the doubleheader against Binghamton on June 29.

His transition from High-A Bradenton hasn’t been the easiest, but manager Michael Ryan feels comfortable enough to put him in the two spot in the lineup everyday.

While Sharpe’s fourth homer of July was certainly the biggest hit of the game, it wouldn’t have been possible without Bligh Madris’ three-run blast in the inning prior. Jared Oliva delivered a one-out single and Logan Hill followed with a walk to set the stage for the seventh home run of the season for Altoona’s No. 7.

All eight of the Curve’s runs were unanswered and came in the final four innings of the win that prevented a sweep at the hands of the first place Baysox. The Curve are now six and a half games back of Bowie.

Altoona was tasked with facing one of the hottest pitchers in the Eastern League, Michael Baumann. The 23-year-old right hander was coming off a no-hitter against Harrisburg on Tuesday.

But the Curve were able to ensure Baumann didn’t get through six innings on Sunday afternoon, scoring three runs on three hits while Baumann was on the mound.

Veteran lefty Sean Brady got the start for Altoona and was only able to last five innings, snapping his streak of 12 straight starts with at least six innings pitched. Brady allowed six runs on 10 hits and didn’t record a strikeout.

However, Jesus Liranzo and Austin Coley combined to pitch four fantastic, scoreless innings out of the bullpen. After using arguably its three best relievers last night — Beau Sulser, Blake Cederlind and Matt Eckelman — Altoona needed a performance like that out of the bullpen from Lirazno and Coley.

Liranzo went six up, six down in his two innings of work and struckout one batter in the process.

Coley allowed four hits in his two innings, but was able to work out of a pair of jams to earn his second Double-A win of the season. He allowed the winning run to step to the plate with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but one double play and a pop out to Mitchell Tolman was enough to preserve the win.

Curve outfielder Jared Oliva continued the tear he’s been on for the last month and a half. The Pirates’ No. 9 overall prospect, according to MLB.com, went 2-for-5 in the game with a pair of runs scored and is now slashing .431/.500/.631 in 17 games in the month of August.

Altoona now returns home for a pivotal four-game series against Erie, that includes a doubleheader on Tuesday night. A sweep for the Curve would pull them even with the SeaWolves in the standings and keep their playoff hopes alive.

How they scored

Bottom 2nd: Nitchting homered to left. Palmeiro singled, scored on Yahn’s sacrifice fly (0-2).

Bottom 3rd: McKenna tripled, scored on Diaz’s single. Diaz scored on Nitchting’s groundout. Perez hit by pitch, scored on Palmeiro’s sacrifice fly (0-5).

Bottom 5th: Nitchting reached on a fielder’s choice, scored on Ripken’s double (0-6).

Top 6th: Pabst walked, scored on Sharpe’s single. Sharpe scored on a wild pitch. Oliva singled, scored on Hill’s double (3-6).

Top 8th: Oliva singled, Hill walked, both scored on Madris’ home run to right field (6-6).

Top 9th: Tolman walked, scored on Sharpe’s home run to left field (8-6).

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