The RubberDucks went into extra innings for the second consecutive game, but Wednesday’s result wasn’t as successful in a 6-5 loss to the Altoona Curve in 10 innings at Canal Park.
The RubberDucks defeated the Curve 5-4 in 14 innings on Tuesday night.
“For two nights in a row, we haven’t given up when it looked not-so-great at the end,” RubberDucks manager David Wallace said. “[The extra-inning games are] definitely somewhat of a toll, but these guys are young and in shape and prepared, so most of the time in these cases, it’s more of a mental grind.”
After being relatively stagnant in the first eight innings — one run in the third, another run in the sixth — the RubberDucks (10-10) found an offensive spark in the ninth to tie it at 5-5.
Designated hitter Yandy Diaz and right fielder Jordan Smith both hit singles to open the inning. Catcher Jake Lowery then hit a single up the middle to score Diaz, and third baseman Yonathan Mendoza’s fielder’s choice scored Smith to make it 5-4.
Second baseman Todd Hankins, who already had an RBI double in the third inning, knocked in the tying run with a single.
“We had a couple bases open so I was thinking [the pitcher] wasn’t going to give me much to hit, but he went right at me,” Hankins said. “I just tried to make sure I was swinging at good pitches, and he left one over the plate and I was able to hit it through the hole.”
Hankins was caught stealing to end the inning.
“It just shows you that these guys don’t quit,” Wallace said of the last-inning comeback. “I’m happy with our at-bats.”
The Curve (12-6) regained the lead in the 10th, taking advantage of smart base-running. Second baseman Max Moroff drew a one-out walk and made it to third on first baseman Josh Bell’s single. He scored on a wild pitch by Grant Sides.
Left fielder Anthony Gallas gave the RubberDucks new life with two outs in the 10th, hitting a double that nearly cleared the left-field wall but Smith grounded out to end the game.
RubberDucks starting pitcher Ryan Merritt (1-2) overcame a two-run first inning to throw six innings with two strikeouts. Between the first and sixth innings, Merritt retired 12-of-13 batters.
“Ryan’s a guy that stays even-keeled out there,” Wallace said. “He kept us in the ballgame. He did a good job of giving us six solid innings. Not his best performance, but he did his job.”
The Curve built a big advantage in the sixth inning with the help of two errors.
Following Merritt’s overthrow on a pickoff attempt and a single, Curve third baseman Edward Salcedo hit a double to left field to bring in the first run of the inning. Catcher Jacob Stallings added an RBI single, and another error resulted in the third run of the inning.
Jeremy Lucas, who played hero for the RubberDucks on Tuesday night, bobbled a ball at first base and couldn’t make the play in time to record the last out of the inning.
Right-handed reliever Nick Pasquale made his RubberDucks debut and retired nine consecutive batters in his three innings of work. He struck out two and gave the RubberDucks a chance to rally.
“We’re familiar with him because we’ve had him in the past at different levels,” Wallace said. “He’s a good pitcher that’s got some weapons. He’ll go back to Lake County, but next opportunity that opens up, his name will be up there at the top of the list. He might be helping us out sooner rather than later.”