Win: Zack Thornton (2-1)
Loss: Taylor Hill (2-7)
Save: Kenn Kasparek (2)
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Reliever Zack Thornton came on in a spot starting role for the Curve and was tremendous in the team's, 4-1, series-closing win over the Senators at Metro Bank Park. Thornton, who made all 147 professional appearances out of the bullpen before tonight, did not allow a hit until there was one out in the fifth and struck out six in five superb innings of work.
Starting for the first time since he was an Oregon Duck back in 2010, Thornton went 1-2-3 through the 'Sens lineup in the first and second before getting some run support in the third. The Curve had also been set down in order through their first seven hitters to start the night but Mel Rojas, Jr. changed all that with a rocket-shot homer into right field that put the Curve in front, 1-0.
Thornton (2-1) took over from there and finished the five innings allowing just the one hit. The five innings for Thornton are a career-high while his six strikeouts in the game tied his career-best mark.
Altoona was able to add insurance in the sixth when Alen Hanson hit the first of his two triples and came home on an Adalberto Santos sac fly. In the seventh, Jarek Cunningham hit another towering home run to left, his 18th overall homer of the season that made it 3-0. Justin Howard had an RBI fielder's choice in the eighth that put the Curve up, 4-0.
After Thornton departed the game, the Curve bullpen took over with Ryan Beckman dealing two scoreless hitless innings and Luis Sanz doing the same in the eighth. Things got a little dicey in the ninth though as Sanz allowed a run to come in and left with the bases loaded and one out.
Kenn Kasparek came in to face Sean Nicol with just one out and the bases loaded and for a second-straight night the Curve received another case of déjà vu. Just like last night, except as the beneficiaries of the call, a ball was hit to the right side of the infield by Nicol and Cunningham went to second base to try and start two. Ricky Hague was sliding into second base as Hanson tried to get a throw off to first that was not in time. However, the umpires ruled that Hague interfered with Hanson's throw and by rule Hague was out and the batter Nicol was out. That play ended the game and sent the Curve home victorious.
Curve pitching combined to allow a total of four hits with three of them coming in the ninth. They walked just one and struck out a combined 11 on the evening.
Hanson led the offense with three hits and two of them were triples.
Done with the road for the remainder of the 2013 season, the Curve (62-76) now return home for the final homestand of the season versus Akron (AA - Indians) beginning Friday night at 7 p.m. Things will get a rocking early with John Stiffler out on the Rocky Gap Casino Resort Entertainment Deck from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., meaning that gates at PNG Field will open at 5 p.m. for the general public.
Then for the game, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis will be in the house to shoot out the first puck and sign autographs for two hours thanks to WTAJ-TV and Applied Telephony. In conjunction with the appearance of Dupuis, the Curve will be wearing special hockey-inspired jerseys for the game that will be auctioned off during an in-game silent auction to benefit Be the Match, an organization chosen by former Curve pitching coach and current West Virginia Power pitching coach Jeff Johnson. Be the Match is a national marrow donor program that matches up patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow transplant.
Friday night also serves as the annual Gift Card Grab at the ballpark where selected fans can come down on the field postgame and take a stab at grabbing as many gift cards as they can off the outfield grass. The final Silver Steamers Club Game presented by Homewood Retirement Centers at Martinsburg & Everett will take place on Friday night in Curve, Pa.
The first 250 fans 21+ that exit the park following the game will take home a Mug Club Mug on the final T.G.I. Friday's Mug Club Night of the season. After the game in Curve, Pa., kids can run the bases. Everyone is invited to T.G.I. Friday's following the game for the final Extra Innings Party with two Curve players hanging out at T.G.I. Friday's on Plank Road.
On the mound for the Curve in the homestand opener will be RHP Nick Kingham (3-3, 2.98), who makes his final start of the 2013 season.
Airtime on ESPN Radio 1430, WVAM and the Curve Radio Network is slated for 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information on the final homestand of the season that begins tomorrow, , please 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.