In one of the most unusual and longest games of the season, the RubberDucks won on a bean-off, beating the Altoona Curve 5-4 in 14 innings at Canal Park.
“Probably the wackiest game I’ve ever been a part of, really,” RubberDucks manager Dave Wallace said. “That was nuts.”
It was a sloppy, yet effective, three-run top of the 14th inning that gave the Curve a 4-1 lead.
The inning started with RubberDucks reliever Josh Martin walking Stetson Allie. Dan Gamache put down a sacrifice bunt, and Martin sailed a throw to first that allowed the runners to advance to second and third. An intentional walk loaded the bases with no outs.
Martin got Edward Salcedo to ground out to get an out the next at-bat. The Curve’s Gift Ngoepe then hit a grounder to RubberDucks third baseman Yandy Diaz, who threw home but catcher Tony Wolters didn’t touch home plate and the Curve took a 2-1 lead. The Curve tacked on two more after that, and it was all but over for the RubberDucks.
But it wasn’t. The persistent Ducks lineup battled through the four-hour, 13-minute game and kept swinging away. After hits from Todd Hankins, Erik Gonzalez and Diaz, the game was tied 4-4 with the bases loaded and two outs.
Curve reliever Tyler Sample struggled throughout the inning, and ended up hitting Jeremy Lucas to force home the winning run for the RubberDucks on a walk-off on a hit-by-pitch.
“I’m just proud of them that they didn’t quit,” Wallace said. “I know the thought goes through your head, a couple of times probably, especially with a morning or noon game tomorrow. You can just kind of cash it in, especially when we get down. But they never quit, and there’s a lot to say for that.”
The Curve’s first run came in the top of the fourth inning, when Allie, a Lakewood St. Edward alum, hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in left field that scored Max Moroff to make it 1-0.
The Curve threatened again in the eighth inning when Moroff and Josh Bell got to RubberDucks reliever Enosil Tejeda and loaded the bases with two extra-base hits and a walk.
Jeff Johnson relieved and got Allie to pop out to shortstop to get out of the jam.
“You can probably point to 20 different things and say ‘that was a game changer,’?” Wallace said. “But that was definitely one of them.”
The RubberDucks rallied in the ninth inning. It started on a one-out single by Wolters, which was followed by a single from Diaz. Curve reliever Collin Balester walked Jordan Smith, loading the bases for the RubberDucks.
The next batter, Lucas, hit a soft grounder to Ngoepe that was too difficult to turn a double play. It scored Wolters from third to tie it 1-1 and send it into extra innings.
Before the craziness, Tuesday’s game featured a pitching duel between the Curve’s Zach Dodson and the RubberDucks’ Mike Clevinger.
Dodson threw six innings of three-hit baseball. After surrendering back-to-back hits to Tyler Naquin and Hankins, the Curve southpaw retired 17 of the next 20 hitters.
Clevinger gave up one earned run on six hits in six innings. He struck out three and walked none.
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