Win: Justin Wilson
Loss: Nathan Baker
Save: Jason Townsend
CURVE, Pa. - A historic day in the history of the Altoona Curve franchise took place on Saturday when the Curve welcomed in their parent club for a second exhibition game in 13 years and it even resulted in an, 8-6, Curve win. 10,116 fans saw the Curve best the Pirates with both clubs using a mixture of both Curve and Pirates players. The previous record-attendance at Peoples Natural Gas Field came in 2006 when Altoona hosted the Eastern League All-Star Game and 9,308 fans watched the stars of tomorrow.
Fireworks went off before the game even started when the two sides announced that they had renewed their Player Development Contract (PDC) for another four seasons, meaning the two teams will remain affiliates through the 2018 season. Once the 2018 season rolls around, the Curve and Pirates will have been affiliated with one another for 20 consecutive seasons.
The affiliation extension was only the first major announcement of the day as the Curve and Eastern League announced that the 2014 All-Star Game would be returning to Altoona on July 16, 2014. It will be the second time the Curve host the Eastern League's version of the mid-summer classic and it will be the first time since the 2006 season.
As for the game itself, Altoona hopped out to an early 4-0 lead on Pirates righty James McDonald. Mel Rojas, Jr. singled to start the game, moved to second on a Matt Curry walk and subsequently scored on Andrew Lambo's RBI-single through the right side. With runners at the corners and less than two down, Adalberto Santos offered up a sacrifice fly to bring Curry in and run the lead to 2-0.
After an Alex Dickerson walk, Carlos Paulino delivered a two-run double to right that had Altoona up by four.
The lead remained until the second when former Curve center fielder Starling Marte blasted a grand slam off of Tony Watson, who was pitching for the Curve in the game, to tie the game at four.
That's where it stayed until Altoona plated four runs in the fifth inning to take a lead it would not relinquish. Nathan Baker, who is a member of the 2013 Curve roster, entered the game in relief for Pittsburgh and walked the bases loaded. All three walked batters eventually came around to score in a four-running inning highlighted by RBI-singles from Justin Howard and Rojas.
The four-run lead would suffice for Altoona as Pittsburgh only scored twice the rest of the way. For the Pirates, Marte finished the day 2-for-3 with his grand slam and four RBI. Russell Martin and Travis Snider also had a pair of hits for Pittsburgh.
On the Altoona side of the diamond, Rojas, Lambo and Howard all each had a pair of hits with Lambo driving in two of Altoona's eight runs.
Altoona opens up its regular season at 6:35 p.m. on April 4 in Erie where they will take on the SeaWolves (AA - Detroit) in the first of four games. The Curve open the home portion of their schedule at 6:30 p.m. on BOpening Night, April 11 at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Altoona will honor the life of beloved bat boy Bo Forney, who passed away earlier this year, during its home opener. Game-used memorabilia from today's Pirates-Curve Exhibition, along with other items, will be auctioned off during BOpening Night with all proceeds benefitting the American Heart Association.
The first 5,000 fans into the ballpark on BOpening Night will receive a 2013 Magnet Schedule courtesy of Capital Contractors. It's also a Thirsty ThursdayTM presented by Rocky 104.9 with $2 16 oz. Bud Light drafts and half-priced 22 oz. sodas. Members of the Silver Steamers Club presented by Homewood Retirement Centers in Martinsburg & Everett will enjoy their first game of the season on April 11 as well.
Airtime on ESPN Radio 1430, WVAM and the Curve Radio Network for the season-opener in Erie is set for 6:05 p.m. For tickets and more information on the 2013 Curve season, call 877.99.CURVE, visit AltoonaCurve.com or stop by the ticket windows at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.