CURVE, Pa. - Oneil Cruz was one of the heroes in his first game at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Monday when he drove a two-strike, two-out single into left field to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and lifted the Altoona Curve over the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 6-5.
The Curve (56-57, 20-25) and Flying Squirrels (41-70, 18-26) traded the lead twice leading up to the seventh inning.
With the score tied, 4-4, Gio Brusa led off the seventh for Richmond with a single off of reliever Clay Holmes (Win, 1-0), who worked two innings for the Curve in a Major League rehab appearance. Brusa scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Zach Houchins after advancing to second on a hit-by-pitch and third on a wild pitch. Richmond trailed, 4-2, when Holmes entered the game in the sixth and connected on three straight hits to even the score.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, a pair of walks from Richmond reliever Caleb Simpson put Brett Pope and Darnell Sweeney on first and second with one out. Chris Sharpe faced new reliever Tyler Cyr (Loss, 0-1) and singled to load the bases. After pitch-hitter Bligh Madris hit into a fielder's choice that resulted in a force-out at the plate for the second out of the inning, Cruz flipped Altoona's fortunes from down a run to a 6-5 lead.
Cody Ponce (Save, 1) shut down Richmond with two perfect innings with three strikeouts to pick up his first save as a member of the Pirates organization.
In the first, Richmond plated two runs against Curve starter Nicholas Economos allowed two of the first three batters to reach base on a double and a walk before Houchins delivered a two-out single, scoring both runners. Economos settled in, holding the Flying Squirrels scoreless over his next four innings, including a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the third, while picking up six strikeouts. He departed in line for his first Double-A win.
Altoona responded with one run in the bottom of the first when Chris Sharpe doubled against Richmond starter Caleb Baragar and later scored on a Jared Oliva sacrifice fly. Robbie Glendinning tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out single, scoring Oliva, who singled and stole second.
Sharpe resurfaced in the fifth to break the tie game with a two-run homer, his seventh since joining Altoona. Sharpe led the offense with a 3-for-4 performance, missing the cycle by a triple, and scored three times.
Cruz finished 2-for-4 while Logan Hill and Glendinning each walked and singled in the win.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.