ALTOONA, PA (WWBT) – When you're in a playoff hunt, you can't blow games against subpar teams. But the Squirrels succumbed to that affliction Monday night. A two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning allowed the Curve (57-70) to steal the opener of a four-game series from the Squirrels (68-59), 3-2.
Both the Baysox and the Senators were winners Monday night, so the Squirrels now sit two and a half games out of the division lead, and two games out of the wild card.
Trailing 2-1 into the bottom of the ninth inning, Altoona put the tying run aboard when right-hander Mitch Lively walked Matt Curry with one out. Lively got the second out, but allowed a single to pinch-hitter Andrew Lambo to move the tying run into scoring position. Richmond summoned left-hander Alex Hinshaw, but he walked Kris Watts to load the bases. Starling Marte tied the game with an RBI single to left field, and Altoona walked off with the win as Hinshaw walked Brock Holt with the bases loaded.
Lively (0-3) took the loss, as the runs that scored in the ninth were charged to him. Hinshaw endured his second blown save of the season. Right-hander Tyler Cox (1-0) earned the win after working a scoreless ninth inning in his Double-A debut.
After two scoreless innings, the Curve struck first against Richmond left-hander Ryan Verdugo in the third inning. With one out in the inning, Marte punched a single into right field. He advanced to second on a groundout, and scored for a 1-0 lead when Josh Rodrgiuez cracked a single to right field.
It took the Squirrels two pitches to even the score, as Francisco Peguero led off the fourth inning with a solo-home run to left field. The drive, Peguero's third, was just fair inside the left-field foul pole off of Altoona right-hander Brett Sinkbeil.
Richmond forged ahead for the first time in the seventh inning, rallying with two outs against Sinkbeil. Skyler Stromsmoe got the Squirrels with a single into right field. Jackson Williams followed and laced a double high off the wall in the left-field corner. As the ball kicked around in the corner, Stromsmoe raced around from first for a 2-1 Richmond lead.
Each starter worked seven innings in the ballgame, with Verdugo leaving with the lead. Verdugo allowed just a lone run on six hits, walked two and struck out seven. Sinkbeil allowed two earned runs on six hits, walked none and struck out six. Neither starter factored in the decision.