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Castro proves to be a prophet in Curve victory

Next stop

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

Pitchers: Curve RHP Noe Toribio (1-1, 4.03) vs. Ducks RHP Shane McCarthy (0-1, 4.64)

Record: 20-11

Radio: WRTA-AM 1240 & 98.5-FM

Rodolfo Castro called his shot, and helped give the Curve a victory in one of the wildest home games in franchise history.

“I say, ‘I hit homer right now,'” Castro recalled of what he told his teammates before leading off the eighth inning Wednesday night.

Sure enough, Castro drilled the first pitch he saw over the wall in right-center for the decisive run in Altoona’s bonkers 14-13 victory over Akron at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

Castro knew if he got the pitch he wanted on the first offering he was going to let it rip.

“I tried to hit a homer,” he said. “I come to the plate, I swing hard this at-bat.”

More history

There’s such great history between the Curve and Akron — two longtime nemesis who have battled it out for big stakes over the years — and the two franchises added a wild chapter to the history Wednesday.

The Curve and RubberDucks went back and forth in a wild slugfest, each landing haymaker after haymaker and appearing to knock the other out. But both sides kept getting back up to keep the battle going.

Altoona wound up landing the big final blow on the homer by Castro, who finished 4-for-5 with four RBIs.

“When you love this game, you love baseball you’ve got to give 100 percent every single game,” Castro said of the wild win.

Epic battle

Akron scored twice in the first inning, only to see the Curve answer with five runs in their first at-bat. That foreshadowed what kind of game it would be, as the two sides kept coming through with big hits and big runs all night long.

The RubberDucks followed the Curve’s five-run first inning by scoring four times in the second for a 6-5 lead. Altoona grabbed a 7-6 lead in the fourth inning on a homer by Oneil Cruz, then things really got wacky a couple of innings later.

Akron scored five times in the sixth inning to grab an 11-7 edge. But the Curve wasted no time coming right back, erupting for six runs in their half of the sixth to pull back ahead, 13-11.

Cal Mitchell came up with the bases loaded and trailing by a run, and he smoked a triple to center that scored all three runs for the 13-11 lead.

Akron, of course, had an answer, coming right back to tie with a pair of runs in the seventh.

SUBHD: Monster HR

Castro belted a big home run in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s game, pulling Altoona even before Jonah Davis won it with a homer in the eighth.

This time, it was Castro’s turn to deliver the go-ahead home run, smacking a leadoff blast to right-center in the eighth for a 14-13 lead.

The way the game had been going, one could have thought Akron might have another answer. But not this time.

Shea Murray (1-0) retired the RubberDucks in order in the ninth to finish off the game and earn the victory. Akron reliever Nick Mikolajchak (0-2) took the loss after giving up Castro’s home run.

SUBHD: Stats and stuff

The teams combined for 27 runs and 30 hits (17 by Akron), yet there were only two home runs in the game (Castro and Cruz). Several players on both teams had big offensive nights.

Castro’s 4-for-5 effort led the Curve, while Mitchell was 2-for-4 with four RBIs and Cruz 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs from the leadoff spot. Mason Martin was 2-for-5 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs.

Chris Roller was 3-for-6 with four RBIs for Akron, while Richard Palacios was 4-for-6. Alex Call and Oscar Gonzalez had three hits apiece for the RubberDucks.

SUBHD: Roster move

Infielder Ji-hwan Bae was placed on the seven-day injured list Wednesday with a left knee injury, suffered during a collision in Tuesday night’s game.

Bae, one of the Pirates’ top prospects, is batting .265 with no homers and four RBIs this season. He’s a .301 career hitter in the minors.

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