Curve deflate Squirrels in middle game of series
The Altoona Curve (12-10) thumped the Flying Squirrels (14-10) for eight runs on ten hits in an 8-2 win on Tuesday evening at The Diamond. Squirrels Spot starter Mike Connolly matched his career-high with seven strikeouts in the no-decision. Richmond has dropped the first two contests of the series and will attempt to avoid the sweep in the homestand finale’ on Wednesday morning with first pitch at 10:35 a.m.
Making a spot start for the recently promoted Matt Gage, Flying Squirrels reliever Mike Connolly was more than reliable in his first Double-A start. Connolly allowed a double to Cole Tucker to begin the game and then retired the next six batters, four via the strikeout to keep Altoona off the board in the first two innings.
Connolly cut through the Curve over four scoreless innings before reaching his pitch count (62). Connolly matched his career-high of seven strikeouts, but received a no-decision in the effort. Overall the righty allowed just a pair of hits in four innings and extended his scoreless innings streak to 16.
Altoona broke the stalemate in the fifth inning against the Richmond bullpen. Jake McCasland replaced Connolly and was quickly faced with a bases-loaded situation. Will Craig doubled, Elvis Escobar singled and Christian Kelley walked. Curve Pitcher Dario Agrazal then plated the first run on a swinging bunt up the third base side. Stephen Alemais made it a 3-0 Curve lead on an RBI single and Jason Martin drove home a run, also on a base hit into center.
The Curve tacked on another pair of runs in the sixth for a 6-0 advantage. Jordan George opened the inning on a single to left and scored when Will Craig drove a ball into the gap in left centerfield just out of the reach of the diving Ronnie Jebavy. Craig came around on a one-out sacrifice fly to center.
McCasland (0-1) suffered the loss by working two innings of relief. The righty allowed six runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out two.
Altoona’s Dario Agrazal kept Richmond at bay through six innings of work in the win. Agrazal (2-0) limited Richmond to just one run on four hits in his first career start vs. the Flying Squirrels. Richmond plated their lone run against Agrazal in the sixth inning when pinch-hitter Matt Lipka tripled to right field and Ryan Howard brought him home on a groundout to second.
Yuedy Garcia replaced Agrazal and worked around a walk and a hit batter for a scoreless inning. Bret Helton tossed the final two innings for Altoona. Jerry Sands made it an 8-2 contest with a homer off Helton in the bottom of the ninth. It was Sands fourth homer of the year.
Dan Slania replaced McCasland in the seventh and punched out a pair of hitters in 1-2-3 inning. Tyler Cyr then entered for the eight and yielded a pair of walks and runs to fall behind, 8-1.