AKRON, Ohio - Bligh Madris broke up a tie game with a go-ahead, two-run homer during a four-run eighth inning and fueled another Altoona Curve comeback win, 6-4, over the Akron RubberDucks at Canal Park on Wednesday.
The win clinched the season series for the Curve (44-38, 9-6), who are 10-4 against the RubberDucks (40-45, 6-10) with four games remaining between the two in 2019. In the last contest in Akron for the year, Altoona finished 6-1 at Canal Park for the best record in Akron in franchise history. It stands as the fifth win in the season series and just the fourth time Altoona finished with a winning record at Canal Park.
Trailing 4-2 after seven innings, Chris Sharpe sparked the rally with a solo homer to left field, his third at Double-A. Jared Oliva represented the tying run when he connected on a single to center and stole second base, his 20th of the year, to move into scoring position. Akron went to the bullpen for right-hander Jordan Stephens (Loss, 1-1) to face Robbie Glendinning , but the Curve infielder cracked a game-tying, RBI double off the base of the left field fence. Madris was the next batter and fell behind 0-2 in the count before he hammered his fifth home run off the batter's eye in center field.
The RubberDucks responded with a pair of hits off Joel Cesar (Win, 2-2) during the eighth, but the right-hander fanned Connor Smith to strand runners on the corners.
Matt Eckelman (Save, 15) took the ball for the ninth and notched the first two outs before he issued a nine-pitch walk to Mitch Longo. However, he came right back and struck out Alex Call to end the game and remain a perfect 15-for-15 in save attempts this season.
The two clubs traded single-run innings over the first half of the game before playing long ball late.
Altoona scored first with singles by Mitchell Tolman and Sharpe before Tolman reached third on a fielder's choice. Glendinning delivered a sacrifice fly as the Curve took an early lead. Akron lefty Sam Hentges settled in before Alfredo Reyes and Gift Ngoepe reached base to start the fifth and pulled off a double steal. Sharpe came through to tie the contest, 2-2, with a sacrifice fly to center that plated Reyes.
Akron posted single runs in the second and third and pulled ahead, 4-2, in the sixth while facing Curve right-hander Pedro Vasquez . Connor Marabell kicked off the second with a double and scored with two outs on a single from Alexis Pantoja to tie the game, 1-1. In the third, three straight hits by Ernie Clement, Longo and Call led to a 2-1 Akron advantage. The big knock for the 'Ducks was delivered by Nellie Rodriguez, a two-run homer in the sixth to snap an 0-for-18 slide against Curve pitchers.
The ballgame featured three ties and three lead changes while the Curve finished off their 25th comeback victory of the year.
Madris went 2-for-4 with a double and a homer while Sharpe (2-for-3) and Glendinning (1-for-3) each had two RBIs. Oliva stole two bases during a 2-for-4 night at the plate.
Altoona heads home to play their final series before the All-Star Break, a four-game set against the Erie SeaWolves. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. with left-hander Sean Brady (3-7, 4.93) making the start for the Curve against Erie right-hander Alex Faedo (5-5, 3.36).
The ballpark gates will open at 5:30 p.m. for the Independence Day contest. Patriotic FIREWORKS will be after the ballgame, presented by the Pennsylvania Lottery, while fans can enter the Starling Marte autographed jersey raffle on the LiveSource App from 10 a.m. through 9 p.m. For tickets or more information, visit AltoonaCurve.com, call 877.99.CURVE or stop by the PNG Field box office. Additionally, the Stockyard Team Store is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., during every home game and online 24/7/365.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.