Squirrels swept in extra-inning matinee
Squirrels catcher Ronnie Freeman forced extra innings with an RBI single in the ninth, but the Altoona Curve (13-10) plated a run in the 10th inning and held on for a 3-2 win and series sweep of Richmond (14-11) on Wednesday afternoon at The Diamond. A crowd of 7,109 was on hand for a well-pitched matchup between two quality left-handed starting pitchers in Garrett Williams and Brandon Waddell. The Squirrels won two of the six games on the homestand and are off on Thursday before opening a three-game series in Reading on Friday.
Trailing 2-1 in the ninth, Dylan Davis scalded a hustle-double into right centerfield off Curve closer Geoff Hartlieb. With two outs, Freeman floated a base hit into center, sending the contest into extra innings.
Altoona quickly retook the lead with the gifted runner (new pace of play rules) scoring in the top of the 10th. Jason Martin delivered an RBI base hit to make it a 3-2 Curve lead. Harlieb (4-0) returned for the bottom of the 10th and stranded Richmond’s gifted runner to end the game and earn the win. Richmond reliever Caleb Simpson suffered the loss. Simpson (1-1) worked one inning and allowed an unearned run.
Altoona struck first with a run off Williams in the top of the third inning. Williams had retired the first two batters of the frame, but then issued a walk to Ke’Bryan Hayes. Jason Martin followed with a base hit, placing Hayes at second who then scored on a groundball back up the middle for a 1-0 lead. Williams induced a flyout of Logan Hill to limit the Curve to the one run.
The Squirrels lefty returned for the fourth inning by recording his first 1-2-3 stanza of the day. Williams was at 52 pitches through the first four innings on Wednesday.
Richmond pushed across their first run, tying the game 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ryan Howard opened the inning with a double and advanced to third on a ground out. Jerry Sands managed to work the first walk of the day off Waddell and Dylan Davis delivered an RBI base hit into right field. The Squirrels worked the bases loaded, but failed to push across the go-ahead run.
The Curve regained the lead with a run in the top of the fifth inning. Williams walked Waddell to start things off and Ke’Bryan Hayes shot a double into right centerfield. With runners on second and third, Jason Martin lofted a sacrifice fly to center for a 2-1 Altoona advantage.
Williams lasted a season-high six innings in the no-decision. He allowed the two runs on seven hits in his fifth start of the season. The lefty struck out four and walked two before being relieved by Ray Black. Black was dominant in two innings, his longest outing at Double-A. Black struck out five of the six batters he faced.
Waddell regained his balance after the two walks and run scored in the fourth. The lefty kept Richmond off the board the rest of his outing, tossing a season-high seven innings in the no-decision. Waddell allowed just the one run on four hits, striking out two and walking a pair.