Visiting Altoona pulled to within a run of the Aeros in the seventh and final inning in the first game of Saturday night’s doubleheader, but the host used a game-ending double play to end the threat and escape with a 7-6 victory.
It was hard to believe the game would even get that close after the way it started, with the Aeros touching Altoona starter and left-hander Eliecer Navarro for six runs (five earned) in the first two of his five innings.
But the Curve retuned the favor by attacking the Aeros bullpen with four runs in the final two innings, pulling to within a run. But Altoona ran itself out of the inning when third baseman Adalberto Santos was doubled off second base by Aeros second baseman Justin Toole, who stepped on the bag for a double play that ended the game.
Aeros got to Navarro from the start, with shortstop Jose Ramirez leading off the bottom of the first inning with a single. Then back-to-back walks after Navarro got his first out loaded the bases for right fielder Carlos Moncrief, who delivered a bases-clearing double to deep left-center field to hand the host an early 3-0 lead.
Aero third baseman Giovanny Urshela was up next and reached safely on a fielding error on Curve shortstop Kelson Brown, which also allowed Moncrief to score an unearned run to push Akron’s lead to 4-0
But the Curve quickly got a run back in the top of the next inning when designated hitter Charlie Cutler led off with a walk and promptly scored when second baseman Jerek Cunningham broke up the shut out bid with a double up the left field line.
But Aeros designated hitter Cedric Hunter pushed the host’s lead to five runs in the bottom of the inning, making it 6-1 with a two-out, two-run blast into the right field bleachers.
Curve left fielder Drew Maggi recorded his first home run of the season - a line drive, solo shot over the left field wall that cut the deficit to 6-2 in the third inning. The longball marked just the sixth of the season given up by Aeros starter and right-handed pitcher Brett Brach.
Brach went on to limit the Curve to the two runs on four hits in five innings, giving way to Indians rehabbing reliever Blake Wood. After getting the first two outs, the right-hander whose recovering from Tommy John surgery, walked Cutler and dished up a single to Cunningham before being pulled due to pitch count.
Hard-throwing Austin Adams replaced Wood, but wasn’t able to blow the ball past first baseman Justin Howard, who cleared the bases with a double. Adams took the mound again in the seventh and final inning, but walked leadoff man and right fielder Andy Vasquez. Then with one out, Adams over threw second base in an attempt to start a double-play to put two men on.
Two singles followed, including center fielder Gregory Polanco’s that drove in two runs to pull within a run of tying the game before Cutler lined into the game-inning double play.