CURVE, Pa. - The Eastern League Western Division champion Altoona Curve were knocked out of postseason play with a 9-0 loss to the Akron RubberDucks on Saturday at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Out of nine total playoff appearances, the Curve have been bounced from the Eastern League playoffs five times by the RubberDucks. After winning three-of-four, Akron advances to play the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, in the Eastern League Championship Series. Akron has won five Eastern League titles, most recently in 2016. The Fisher Cats' lone Eastern League championship was won in 2004 over the Curve.
Akron jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning with three singles off Dario Agrazal (Loss, 0-1). Ernie Clement and Josh Donaldson started the game with back-to-back singles to place runners on first and third with no outs. Tyler Krieger grounded out to bring in the first run of the game followed by an RBI single from Andrew Calica.
In the third inning, Calica slugged a two-run homer that boosted Akron's lead to 4-0. Krieger began the inning with a single and scored on the blast that went over the wall in the right field corner.
Agrazal's day ended after he walked the next two hitters. The Curve starter lasted 2.1 innings, allowed six hits, three walks and struck out two while he was charged with five runs.
Logan Sendelbach inherited Agrazal's two runners and surrendered a single to fill the bases for Akron before he walked in a run to make it 5-0. Sendelbach had two strikes on each batter before losing them. Ke'Bryan Hayes picked up his pitcher with a 5-3 double play to retire the RubberDucks in the third.
Sendelbach fired 2.2 scoreless innings with two strikeouts to keep the Curve within five before he gave way to Sean Keselica for the sixth.
Akron opened the game up with four runs in the seventh, all charged to Keselica. Three weak singles by Nellie Rodriguez, Calica and Jodd Carter loaded the bases before Keselica tossed a wild pitch to plate Rodriguez. Ka'ai Tom worked a walk to load the bases back up before Mark Mathias and Daniel Salters connected on back-to-back RBI singles.
Geoff Hartlieb took over with one out and an 8-0 Akron lead and walked Clement to bring in another score for the 'Ducks before he escaped the inning. Hartlieb went on to pitch a scoreless eighth for a total of 1.2 scoreless frames with two strikeouts.
Bret Helton retired the last three RubberDucks in a scoreless ninth despite a lead-off single and a hit batter.
Sean Brady (Win, 1-0), who carried a 6.58 ERA against the Curve in the regular season, shut down the Curve offense over seven scoreless innings. He worked around seven base hits with three strikeouts and did not allow a walk.
Altoona went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven on base in the shutout loss.
Jin-De Jhang went 3-for-4, accounting for a third of the Curve's nine hits. Bryan Reynolds accounted for the lone extra-base hit in the game with a double in the fourth inning.
The loss goes down as the second-largest defeat in the Curve's postseason history, trailing a 12-0 loss to Akron in game two of the 2006 ELDS.
The Curve's 20th season closes after a fourth division title and the team's fourth consecutive playoff appearance. Altoona's three previous division champions (2004, 2010 and 2017) reached the Eastern League Championship Series.
The Curve return to action with the beginning of the 2019 season, which opens in Akron on April 4. The 2019 home opener at Peoples Natural Gas Field is also against the RubberDucks on Thursday, April 11. For tickets or more information, visit AltoonaCurve.com, call 877.99.CURVE or stop by the PNG Field box office.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.