Win: James Marvel (3-1)
Loss: Jake McCasland (4-7)
Win: Scooter Hightower (1-1)
Loss: Garrett Williams (3-9)
Save: Matt Eckelman (10)
CURVE, Pa. - A pair of masterful pitching performances by James Marvel and Scooter Hightower led a double-header sweep for the Altoona Curve, 9-2 and 3-0, over the Richmond Flying Squirrels on Saturday at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
With two wins for the Curve (73-56) over the Flying Squirrels (61-69) and a win by the Akron RubberDucks (74-57) over the Harrisburg Senators (64-64), Altoona is tied for first place with Akron in the Eastern League Western Division. The magic number for the Curve, who now own the league's best record by winning percentage, to clinch a fourth consecutive playoff berth is down to 1.
James Marvel (Win, 3-1) tossed a complete-game for his third straight winning decision with the help of a six-run fourth inning from the Curve offense in a 9-2 win during the first contest.
Marvel had a 9-0 lead before he allowed two runs in the fifth to the Flying Squirrels. Matt Lipka doubled home Matt Winn, who reached on a lead-off walk, before he scored on a sacrifice fly.
Logan Hill connected on a two-run single with the bases loaded in the first inning of the dual session to push Altoona out to a 2-0 lead. Jin-De Jhang extended the lead to 3-0 after an RBI single of his own.
The Curve put the game out of reach with a six-run fourth, matching the most runs scored by Altoona in a single inning this year. Richmond starter Jake McCasland (Loss, 4-7) walked five batters in the inning including two with the bases loaded. Bryan Reynolds singled with the bases loaded and led to two Curve runs, one scored by Stephen Alemais from third and a second on an error that allowed Marvel to scamper home, before another RBI hit by Jhang.
Marvel's complete game was the third this year by a Curve pitcher and the third time he went the distance between Double-A Altoona and A-Adv. Bradenton.
Scooter Hightower (Win, 1-1) picked up his first Double-A win with a season-high six scoreless innings and hit an RBI single in the second inning to help his cause while the Curve completed the sweep, 3-0.
Hightower allowed a first-inning single to Jonah Arenado and retired the next 15 hitters before Luigi Rodriguez singled with two outs in the sixth. Those two hits were all that the right-hander allowed while he struck out five and did not issue a walk.
The Curve padded the lead with two more runs in the third inning on an RBI single by Will Craig and an RBI double from Hill. Craig's hit brought in his 98th RBI of the season to move him eight short of tying the club's single-season record of 106 by Adam Hyzdu.
Matt Eckelman (Save, 10) was the only relief pitcher that threw in either game and threw a perfect seventh inning to complete the scoreless effort. The shutout win for Altoona was the tenth of the season and the third in August.
The Curve have swept three straight double-headers at home with two wins over Harrisburg on June 26 and a pair against Erie on August 11.
Reynolds rattled off five hits over the two games, going 5-for-6 with one walk. Hill racked up four RBIs and went a combined 2-for-6 at the plate. The pitchers, Marvel and Hightower, each had singles during their respective games while Altoona totaled 21 hits in the twin bill.
The Curve and Flying Squirrels will wrap up their weekend series on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. Right-hander Eduardo Vera (7-3, 4.21) will start for Altoona against right-hander Chase Johnson (2-4, 3.99) for Richmond.
There will be post-game fireworks, presented by All of Us Pennsylvania. Sunday's game will also be A Day in the Arts, the final Ritchey's Dairy Curve Kids' Club Game of 2018 and will feature an appearance by Dora the Explorer, presented by the Comics Vault. 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.