Cruz hits go-ahead single

By Cory Giger

cgiger@altoonamirror.com

Oneil Cruz is a huge prospect for the Pirates. Literally.

He’s 6-foot-6 and plays shortstop, a sight you pretty much never see in baseball, and he enjoyed a memorable home debut for the Curve on Monday.

Cruz hit a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning to provide the winning margin in a 6-5 victory over Richmond before 3,472 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

The struggling Curve got manager Michael Ryan back from a health scare after he missed a week, and they got a much-needed win in their return home.

“Just to get the feeling of shaking hands sometimes, it means a lot,” Ryan said. “Sometimes you take that for granted. For us to execute tonight and bounce back and fight back … I’m glad we could come out on top.”

Ryan had not seen Cruz play yet because he wasn’t with the team last week, but he’s impressed by the highly touted shortstop.

“It was good,” Ryan said. “Two-strike hit the other way with runners in scoring position and two outs. I could tell when they went with the shift he was thinking that way, and I’m glad he got the pitch he was able to do it.”

Pirates pitcher Clay Holmes made a rehab appearance for the Curve in relief and got the win. He did not pitch well, though, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk in two innings, but he was the pitcher of record when Altoona took the lead.

Holmes headed back to rejoin the Pirates and will not make another appearance with the Curve.

Tyler Cyr (0-1) took the loss for Richmond, which is 29 games under .500 at 41-70.

Game recap

Key player: LF Chris Sharpe went 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs and three runs for the Curve.

Key play: SS Oneil Cruz’s two-run single in the seventh won it for Altoona.

Key stat: Manager Michael Ryan returned the team after missing seven games with a health scare.

How they scored

Top 1st: Fargas doubled, Miller walked, both scored on Houchins single (0-2).

Bottom 1st: Sharpe doubled, scored on Oliva sacrifice fly (1-2).

Bottom 4th: Oliva singled, scored on Glendinning single (2-2).

Bottom 5th: Pope reached on fielder’s choice, scored on Sharpe two-run homer (4-2).

Top 6th: Heyward singled, scored on Arenado double (4-3); Houchins doubled, scored on Austin sacrifice fly (4-4).

Top 7th: Brusa singled, scored on Houchins sacrifice fly (4-5).

Bottom 7th: Sweeney walked, Sharpe singled, both scored on Cruz single (6-5).

Next stop

Tonight: Richmond at Altoona, 6:30 p.m.

Pitchers: Curve RHP Pedro Vasquez (6-3, 2.83) vs. Flying Squirrels RHP Alfred Gutierrez (6-5, 4.48)

Record: 20-25 (second half); 56-57 (overall)

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