TRENTON, N.J. - The Altoona Curve scored four runs in the fifth and received strong relief work from Logan Sendelbach in a 5-1, series-opening win over the Trenton Thunder on Tuesday night at ARM & HAMMER Park.
The Curve (60-50) are now ten games over .500 for the first time this season with the win in the rematch of last year's ELCS against the Thunder (63-50).
Sendelbach (Win, 4-2) took over in the second inning and worked 4.1 scoreless innings, his longest outing of the season, picking up three strikeouts while holding the Thunder to one hit and one walk.
He took over the second inning after Altoona starter Scooter Hightower was ejected by home plate umpire Takahito Matsuda for delivering a high pitch after time was granted to Thunder batter Wendell Rijo mid-delivery. Hightower worked through 1.2 scoreless innings before leaving the game.
In the fifth inning, Ke'Bryan Hayes drove in Cole Tucker with a single to open the scoring. Two batters later, Will Craig hit a two-run triple to stretch the lead to 3-0.
The triple by Craig extended his season RBI total to 91, moving him ahead of Jose Bautista for the second-most RBIs in a single season in team history. Craig sits behind only Adam Hyzdu's franchise-record 106 RBIs in 2000 on the list.
Later in the fifth, JIn-De Jhang scored Craig with a sacrifice fly to cap the four-run inning.
The game was delayed for 56 minutes in the top of the seventh inning due to rain. Five of the last seven road games have been delayed.
Jhang, playing in his first game since being activated from the disabled list, extended the Curve lead to 5-0 in the seventh inning with a run-scoring groundout.
Reliever Geoff Hartlieb struck out the first two batters he faced a 1-2-3 seventh inning before the Thunder broke the shutout against him with an RBI single by Danienger Perez in the bottom of the eighth.
Yeudy Garcia stranded two runners on base while working a scoreless ninth inning.
Hayes went 3-for-5 with an RBI and scored two runs. Craig also went 3-for-5, added a double, a triple and two RBIs.
In his Double-A debut, Trenton starter Adonis Rosa (Loss, 0-1) did not allow a run over his first four innings before the Curve plated four runs against him in the fifth.
Over his last 12 outings since June 24, Sendelbach has gone 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA, lowering his season ERA from 6.55 to 4.19.
The win closed the Curve within four games of first-place Akron in the Western Division standings. Altoona also holds a three-game lead over Harrisburg in the division's wild card chase.
The Curve and Thunder play game two of the three-game series on Wednesday afternoon. Right-hander Dario Agrazal (3-2, 2.79) will start for Altoona, opposed by Trenton lefty Ryan Bollinger (6-4, 4.58). First pitch is scheduled for noon at ARM & HAMMER Park in Trenton.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.