AKRON, Ohio - A early seven-run deficit proved to be insurmountable for the Curve on Friday night in an, 8-4, loss to the Akron RubberDucks at Canal Park. Keon Broxton once again helped lead the offense, going 2-for-3 and extending his hitting streak to a team-best nine games. Benches cleared in the bottom of the seventh but no punches were thrown and no ejections occurred.
Righty Tyler Sample (2-2) started on Friday night for the Curve and could not get out of the first inning, throwing 31 pitches and allowing three runs (two earned). He walked three batters and recorded just one out in the first before giving way to Brandon Mann, who retired the final two hitters to get out of the inning.
Mann ran into some trouble himself in the second with the 'Ducks once again sending eight men to the plate, this time scoring four runs (three earned) to open up a, 7-0 lead.
Altoona was able to grab its first run of the game in the third and it started with Broxton, who doubled to start the frame. Gift Ngoepe followed with a single to move him to third and then Alen Hanson brought home the first of his two runs to put the Curve on the board.
Mann settled in after the second and went on to strikeout eight 'Ducks hitters over his 5.2 innings of relief. He kept Akron off the scoreboard and gave the Curve a chance to climb back in the game, which they did in the seventh.
Jarek Cunningham singled off 'Ducks starter Gabriel Arias to start the inning to extend his hit streak to eight games before Broxton followed suit and singled as well. That marked the end of the night for Arias (4-2), who gave way to Jordan Cooper. Cooper then issued a single to Ngoepe and the bases were loaded with no one out. Hanson delivered his second RBI of the game, this time on a single to the right side, and the Curve were within five at, 7-2.
Mel Rojas, Jr., the team leader in RBI, got in on the party and singled off the glove of the pitcher Cooper to bring home another run and keep the bases loaded. Down by four, Matt Curry hit into a fielder's choice that scored Ngoepe from third and it cut the lead to, 7-4.
That's as close as it came as Cooper rebounded to get Stetson Allie to strikeout and Elias Diaz to fly out to end the inning.
Things got dicey in the bottom of the inning when Matt Benedict, who had come in to relieve Mann, threw a few pitches inside on Francisco Lindor. Lindor followed the ball four pitch and slammed his bat down at the plate and engaged in a verbal shouting match with Benedict. Benches cleared and both managers ended up at the center of the shouting match. No punches ended up being thrown and both teams went on about their business.
Akron added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to regain a four-run lead.
Down in the series, the Curve (13-20) will eye a victory in the third game of the set with Akron (22-12) at 6:35 p.m. Saturday night from Canal Park. RHP Nick Kingham (1-2, 3.38), who searches for his first win since his first start of the season, gets the ball in game three for the Curve Saturday night. Akron will counter with RHP Joe Colon (1-2, 2.94).
Airtime on ESPN Radio 1430, WVAM and the Curve Radio Network is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.