Altoona (Curve), Pa - The Altoona scored eight unanswered runs to sprint past the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 8-7, on Friday night at Peoples Natural Gas Field. The Squirrels had enjoyed a 6-0 lead earlier in the ballgame. The loss marks the largest lead the Squirrels have blown on the season.
The Squirrels consistent early attack began in the top of the first inning against Curve right-hander Mike Colla. Colla opened the ballgame by plunking Gary Brown. One pitch later, the Squirrels enjoyed a 1-0 lead. Ryan Cavan drilled a double on that pitch into the right-field corner. Brown dashed around from first base to score.
Richmond struck again in the second as Chris Dominguez opened the inning with a single into left-center field. Left fielder Charlie Cutler misplayed the ball, allowing Dominguez to take second base. He moved to third on a groundout from Monell, and stayed at third when Ehire Adrianza sent a fly ball to short-center field. Wendell Fairley brought him in with an RBI double, extending the Squirrels lead to 2-0.
The lead grew to 3-0 as the Squirrels again notched a lone run in the top of the third inning. Colla hit Brown for the second time to open the inning. Brown swiped second base and catcher Tony Sanchez threw wildly into right-center field. Brown advanced to third on the error and scored on a single from Tommy Joseph.
The Squirrels made it four consecutive innings with at least a run when they plated three off Colla in the fourth. Dominguez opened with his second single of the night. Monell followed with an RBI double into the right-field corner. Adrianza then got jammed but was able to muscle a broken-bat double just fair up the 1st-base line. Monell came in for a 5-0 lead. With Fairley at the plate, Colla delivered a wild-pitch to the backstop. Sanchez thought the pitch had hit Fairley and didn't chase it. Adrianza took advantage, scoring all the way from second base for a 6-0 lead.
Colla eventually settled in, and the Curve began a comeback in the bottom of the fourth inning. Richmond left-hander Jason Stevenson had zipped through the first three innings, but Sanchez started the fourth with a single. Matt Curry followed with a single to put two aboard with nobody down. After Stevenson recorded the first out, Cutler shot an RBI single through the hole on the right-side of the infield. Sanchez scored the first run of the ballgame for the Curve on the single. Curry followed him in as Stevenson committed a balk with Kelson Brown at the plate. Cutler moved on to second base and scored the third run of the inning when Brown cracked a single. After four innings, the Richmond lead was down to 6-3.
Altoona got another run back and chased Stevenson in the fifth. Robbie Grossman and Brock Holt delivered back-to-back singles to start the inning, and Stevenson was lifted in favor of Chris Gloor. Gloor got the first out, but Curry laced an RBI single to make it 6-4. The run was charged to Stevenson and completed his line. He was charged with four earned runs on seven hits over four-plus innings. He didn't factor in the decision.
The fateful inning was the seventh, as Richmond lefty Ari Ronick came on in relief. Holt sparked the inning with a single, but it was an Adrianza error on a double-play ball that followed that opened the door. Sanchez reached on that error, and Holt moved all the way to third base. Curry delivered a sacrifice-fly to make it a one-run game and Jeremy Farrell sent an RBI double down the left-field line to tie it. Ronick was removed in favor of right-hander Jake Dunning. Quincy Latimore gave the Curve their first lead, 7-6, with an RBI single and Brown capped the scoring in the inning with his own single.
Richmond got one run back in the ninth, but it was too little too late, as right-hander Vic Black nailed it down for his first save of the season. Right-hander Tim Alderson (1-0) worked two scoreless innings in relief of Colla for the win. Colla recovered from his early troubles to retire the final seven batters he faced. The Curve comeback saved him the defeat and he didn't register a decision.
Ronick (0-1) took the loss for the Squirrels, his first decision of the season.
The Squirrels and Curve continue their four-game, three-day series with a doubleheader beginning at 5 PM on Saturday night at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Richmond RHP Chris Heston (2-2, 1.21) will oppose Curve LHP Nathan Baker (2-3, 6.94) in game one. Richmond has yet to reveal its starter for game two. RHP Shairon Martis (0-0, 0.00) will make the game two start for the Curve. Pregame coverage will begin on Sports Radio 910 and SportsRadio910.com at 4:30 PM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.