CURVE, Pa. - Five scoreless innings from Scooter Hightower and five early runs boosted the Altoona Curve to a 5-1 win over the Trenton Thunder to close the final regular-season series at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Thursday.
The Curve (75-59) finish the home portion of their schedule 40-29, the first team in the Eastern League to reach 40 wins at home. Altoona closed the season series 6-6 against the Thunder (75-61) and finished 30-19 against opponents from the Eastern Division.
Hightower (Win, 2-1) held the Thunder scoreless over five innings and worked around five hits with three strikeouts. The right-hander added his second consecutive win and has not allowed an earned run in 24 innings, a streak that has lasted through all seven of his appearances in August.
Jordan George's RBI single plated the first run of the game during a three-run second inning for the Curve. Stephen Alemais worked a lead-off walk and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by Trenton starter Brian Keller (Loss, 10-9). With the bases loaded after an Arden Pabst walk and a Cole Tucker single, Ke'Bryan Hayes lined a single off the glove of shortstop Wendell Rijo into center field to bring in two more runs.
Between Tucker's lead-off homer on Tuesday and the second inning on Thursday, the Curve offense went 19 innings without scoring against the Thunder.
Back-to-back singles by Jin-De Jhang and Alemais led to two more runs in the third for the Curve. Alemais swiped second and forced a throwing error by Trenton catcher Jorge Saez as Jhang scored from third. Alemais moved up to third on the play and scored on a double play off the bat of Pabst.
Blake Weiman (2 IP, 0 R, 2 SO) and Geoff Hartlieb (1 IP, 0 R) carried a 5-0 shutout through the eighth inning before Bret Helton surrendered a two-out, RBI single by Bruce Caldwell in the ninth.
Four Curve hitters tallied two hits to lead the 10-hit night for the offense. Tucker's two-hit performance gave the infielder his team-leading 40th multi-hit game while Hayes recorded his 35th game with multiple base hits. Alemais notched his 25th multi-hit outings and George tallied multiple hits for the 20th time in 2018.
The Curve wrap up the regular season with four games over Labor Day weekend against the Bowie Baysox. In the series opener on Friday, right-hander James Marvel (3-1, 2.33) will climb the hill for Altoona against right-hander Dean Kremer (4-2, 2.29) for Bowie. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Prince George's Stadium.
The Eastern League playoffs kick off on Wednesday, September 5 with the Curve facing the Akron RubberDucks in a best-of-five series. 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.