Reading bats power past Curve
Through the first two innings of Saturday night’s ballgame, almost everything was working for the Curve.
They had already plated five runs and Cody Ponce, who was making his first start of 2019, had settled in nicely after allowing an early run.
However, slowly, but surely, the top team in the Eastern League — the Reading Fightin Phils — began to chip away. Solo home runs in the third and fifth innings, respectively, put the Fightins within striking distance.
Then, in the top of the sixth, top Phillies prospect Alec Bohm tied the game up with one swing. He followed up Mickey Moniak’s double with his 12th Double-A home run and the game was quickly knotted up at five.
It didn’t stay that way for long as Reading struck for three more runs in the top of the seventh and went on to top the Curve by a final of 8-6 at Peoples Natural Gas Field, snapping Altoona’s recent winning streak.
“Good teams chip away and we just sat on the lead a little bit,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said. “With a 5-1 lead you’ve got a good feeling that you should probably win that game. But we didn’t.”
The Curve got to work early in the game, striking for three runs in the bottom half of the first. Mitchell Tolman led the inning off with a double and he, along with Jared Oliva, came around to score on Logan Hill’s one-out single. Oneil Cruz, who reached on a walk, scored one batter later on Chris Sharpe’s sacrifice fly.
Catcher Ardent Pabst homered on the first pitch of the second inning and Darnell Sweeney came around to score later in the inning. It looked like the Curve were going to run away with Saturday night’s contest.
“We were getting pitches up in the zone and were able to do some damage early,” Ryan said. “I thought we were aggressive early.”
But Reading starter David Parkinson settled in after the first two innings and was able to make it through the next four innings without allowing a run, ultimately earning his ninth win of the season.
“I think early in the game, (Parkinson]) was leaving the ball more center of the plate,” Tolman said. “I feel like later when he started rolling a bit, he did a good job of playing his offspeed off of his fastball. We weren’t able to lay off those.”
Newly-acquired pitcher Cody Ponce got the start for the Curve and he looked solid in his three innings. But once Nick Economos came in for the fourth, that’s when things started to go wrong for the Curve.
“He’s a 50 percent breaking ball guy and they were just hanging,” Ryan said of Economos. “I don’t think that he recognized that they started to sit on it.”
Economos’ first three Double-A appearances were starts and now working out of the bullpen for the first time since April, it was probably a bit of an adjustment.
He allowed six runs in just three and a third innings as the Fightin Phils were able to even up the weekend series at a game apiece.
Key player: Reading outfielder and former No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak was a key piece in his team’s comeback, contributing a pair of doubles that drove in three runners in the middle innings.
Key play: Reading third baseman Alec Bohm launched a ball into left centerfield that just barely got over the wall for his 12th Double-A homer, tying the game at five and proving that Reading’s offense wasn’t going anywhere.
Key stat: Curve pitcher Nick Economos allowed six runs in 3.1 innings of work, marking the second time in his first four Double-A appearances that he’s allowed six earned runs.
How they scored
Top 1st: Williams singled, scored on Moniak’s groundout (0-1).
Bottom 1st: Tolman doubled, Oliva singled, both scored on Hill’s single. Cruz walked, scored on Sharpe’s sacrifice fly (3-1).
Bottom 2nd: Pabst homered to left. Sweeney doubled, scored on Oliva’s single (5-1).
Top 3rd: Williams homered to center (5-2).
Top 5th: Maton homered to right (5-3).
Top 6th: Moniak doubled, scored on Bohm’s home run to left centerfield (5-5).
Top 7th: Lartigue walked, Mayer singled, both scored on Williams’ double. Williams scored on Moniak’s double (5-8).
Bottom 9th: Madris doubled, scored on Suiter’s single (6-8).