CURVE, Pa. - Will Craig and Jin-De Jhang charged the Altoona Curve offense with three-run homers and combined for seven RBIs to better the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 9-5, on Saturday at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
The Curve (34-28) have won five in a row and eight of their last nine games while outscoring the Fisher Cats (39-28), 19-6, in the first two ballgames of the weekend.
Craig's tenth homer of the season, a towering blast over the left field seats, opened up a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning. He has homered in four of his last five games with 11 RBIs during that period.
Jhang racked up four RBIs on the night with the first coming minutes after Craig's big fly. Bryan Reynolds hit a ground-rule double to right and scored an RBI single from Jhang to expand Altoona's lead to five runs. Cavan Biggio narrowed the Curve advantage to two runs with a three-run homer in the top of the sixth, but Jhang answered with a three-run blast of his own in the bottom half of the inning to total four RBIs and three hits in the game.
New Hampshire scored the game's first run in the first, but the Curve took control in the fourth inning. Logan Ratledge snapped a 1-1 tie on a go-ahead, RBI double moments after Stephen Alemais tied the game on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.
Pedro Vasquez (Win, 1-4) allowed four runs in six innings, all driven home by Biggio. Bo Bichette doubled Jon Berti over to third base in the first to set up a sacrifice fly by Biggio, his first of four RBIs. Prior to the three-run sixth for New Hampshire, Vasquez sat down 11 of 14 hitters after the first-inning double and stranded three runners at second base. Four straight hitters reached base in his final inning, including Biggio's home run.
Sean Keselica tossed two innings in relief of Vasquez and New Hampshire broke through for the first run against the Curve bullpen in the last five games. With one out in the eighth, Keselica walked Bichette and Harold Ramirez doubled him home from first base and produced the final score of the game. Keselica had not allowed a run since April 29, a stretch that lasted ten outings and 15 innings for the longest scoreless streak of the season by a Curve pitcher.
Montana DuRapau recorded the last three outs in the ninth on six pitches, including a strikeout to secure the win for Altoona.
Jason Martin bounced back from an 0-for-5 game on Friday with two hits and his fifth triple of the year. Craig and Jhang each scored two runs while Reynolds crossed home plate three times.
The Curve have an opportunity to sweep the Eastern Division-leading Fisher Cats in the series finale on Sunday night with first pitch set for 6 p.m. Right-hander Eduardo Vera (1-0, 2.57) will take the mound for the Curve and New Hampshire will counter with right-hander Jon Harris (4-3, 5.43).
There will be fireworks after the game on Sunday night and it will also be Faith Night, presented by Element Church. Sunday will also feature a pregame concert and catch on the field with the ballpark gates opening at 4:30 p.m. Each Sunday in Curve, Pa. is aRichtey's Dairy Curve Kids' Club Game that includes free admission for members age 3-12. 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.