Squirrels, Curve not the best of friends
Next up: Altoona at Harrisburg, Tuesday, 6 p.m.
Radio: WRTA-AM 1240 & 98.5-FM
By Cory Giger
A bunch of craziness happened Sunday afternoon in one of the wildest Curve games ever at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Here’s the baseball part of it: The Curve exploded for eight runs in the first inning and set a franchise record for runs in a game during their 19-8 win over Richmond before 3,218 fans. Altoona belted four homers, had 18 hits and won the series, four games to two, against a Flying Squirrels team that came to town in first place.
Here’s the crazy non-baseball stuff: These teams got into a pretty good brawl during the Curve’s visit to Richmond last month, and this series ended Sunday with a whole lot more bad blood between the clubs as there was a benches-clearing situation in the eighth inning.
Fortunately, nothing escalated this time, and calm was quickly restored.
Each team had two batters get hit. Richmond’s Simon Whiteman got hit in the face by Curve reliever Travis MacGregor, and during a lengthy delay, there appeared to be a search taking place in the batter’s box, presumably for one of Whiteman’s teeth.
The Curve led 18-8 in the bottom of the eighth when Tucupita Marcano scored from second on an infield single by Connor Scott that got loose.
A breakdown of what happened after that:
“After Marcano scored, I’m getting a lot of explicit language toward me at third,” said Curve manager Kieran Mattison, who was coaching third. “I heard it, so I turned around and looked at (Richmond’s Armani) Smith, and Smith was saying, ‘(Bleep) you, (bleep) you.’
“I said, ‘Well, (bleep) you. Like, why are you mad at me? We’re just playing the game. We’ll continue to play the game hard.'”
It appeared that the Richmond side was upset that Mattison remained aggressive on the basepaths sending the runner home from second in a 10-run game.
“I heard people chirping,” Mattison said, “and I turned around like, ‘Why are ya’ll mad? We ain’t throwing at nobody. We’re just playing the game.'”
Richmond manager Dennis Pelfrey took exception to Mattison in one regard.
“I just didn’t like him talking to our dugout,” Pelfrey said. “He was talking to our dugout, so I just went out there and told him not to talk to our dugout, not to talk to our players. And if there’s an issue, he could talk to me.”
Pelfrey said he wasn’t upset that the Curve stayed aggressive in scoring the 19th run.
“That’s baseball,” he said.
But Pelfrey didn’t like Mattison’s actions after that.
“I have no idea what was said. I have no idea the reasoning behind it,” Pelfrey said. “But it’s one of those things, I feel like coaches shouldn’t talk to players, and vice versa, players shouldn’t talk to coaches. But some of those things happen when emotions get involved.
“I tried to diffuse the situation as best I could by coming out of the dugout and taking the attention off our players to me from him, and then obviously they came out of their dugout and ran across the field.”
Everybody spilled onto the field from both sides, but there were no punches or shoves, unlike last month’s brawl at The Diamond in Richmond.
“I was focused on getting our guys back, because I don’t want nobody doing something crazy and throwing a punch,” Mattison said. “There wasn’t no need for that. My focus was getting our guys back.”
Pelfrey noted, “Whatever happened a month ago with that team has nothing to do with what we’re doing right now. People can look at that and think that something spurred from that, but it definitely wasn’t.”
SUBHD: News and notes
Pirates GM Ben Cherington said on his radio show Sunday that Curve catcher Henry Davis has a small fracture in his wrist. The GM added that Davis shouldn’t be out too long. Davis was not allowed to speak to the local media Sunday because he’s on the injured list, per Pirates organization policy.
Andres Alvarez hit his team-high eighth homer for the Curve, while Blake Sabol, Aaron Shackelford and Lolo Sanchez also homered. Marcano and Sanchez had three hits and three RBIs apiece.
MacGregor (2-1) won in relief. Richmond scored three runs in the first before the Curve scored eight in their half.
The Curve lost Saturday night, 5-3.
The team hits the road for a week now and will return home May 31.