From the Altoona Curve
Cruz Rides The Skyliner to Secure Doubleheader Split on Saturday Night
The Curve look to secure a series win on Sunday evening
CURVE, PA –?For the second night in a row,?Oneil Cruz?hit a towering home run toward The Skyliner roller coaster beyond the right field wall as the Curve earned a split in the doubleheader with the RubberDucks on Saturday at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Akron took the opener, 4-3, before Altoona rallied for the win in game two, 3-2.
Cruz’s solo shot in the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie and moved into the top three in the Double-A Northeast League with his eighth homer of the season. In the series with Akron, Cruz has seven hits in 16 at-bats (.438) with a double, three home runs and six runs batted in.
Akron broke through with two first inning runs off Curve starter?Osvaldo Bido. After a leadoff single and a walk, Alex Call and Oscar Gonzalez hit back-to-back RBI singles to give the RubberDucks a 2-0 lead. Those were the only two runs allowed for Bido (Win, 2-0), who went 5.0 innings, striking out four on six hits.
Altoona answered in the bottom of the first after a lead-off hustle double from Cruz.?Canaan Smith-Njigba?hit an RBI single off Tanner Tully (Loss, 1-3) to make it a 2-1 game. The Curve tied it in the second inning on an RBI single from?Arden Pabst, scoring?Daniel Amaral,?who reached on an error. Tully allowed all three runs on seven hits in 5.1 IP.
Cam Alldred?and?Cristofer Melendez?(Save, 2) tossed scoreless innings for Altoona. Melendez touched 100 mph on the radar gun twice in the seventh inning. Dakody Clemmer retired two batters for Akron in the sixth inning.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Akron took advantage of some early wildness from Altoona starter?Trey McGough?to take an early lead. Chris Roller drew a leadoff walk in the second inning and Jose Fermin followed with a single to put two aboard with nobody out. McGough came back to strike out catcher Mike Rivera, but Jonathan Englemann followed with a two-run double and Marcos Gonzalez followed him with an RBI double to take a 3-0 lead. McGough came back to get Tyler Freeman to groundout and then strike out Andruw Monasterio to limit the damage in the inning.
Altoona scratched out two runs in the bottom half of the inning against Juan Hillman to draw closer.?Mason Martin?began the inning with a single and?Brendt Citta?followed him with a doubled to left-center to put men at second and third.?Cal Mitchell?followed with an RBI groundout and?Jonah Davis?singled home Citta to make it 3-2, but Pabst?went down on strikes to end the inning.
Alex Call led off the third inning with a solo home run off McGough, but the Curve starter settled in after that; retiring 9-of-the-next-10 batters he faced en route to finishing five innings for the first time this season. McGough, charged with the loss, allowed four runs on four hits and three walks and struck out four on 78 pitches, 45 strikes.
Pabst’s RBI single in the fifth inning brought the Curve within a 4-3 deficit and the team had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the sixth inning. Cruz?began the inning with a base hit and advanced to second on an error by Andrew Monasterio. Smith-Njigba followed with a walk which forced the ‘Ducks to go to the bullpen. Lefty Francisco Perez entered and promptly retired three straight batters to strand a pair in scoring position.
John O’Reilly?fired two scoreless innings in relief, allowing just one hit, following McGough.
The Curve conclude their six-game series at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. RHP?Jeff Passantino?(0-2, 2.70) will start for Altoona with the ‘Ducks sending RHP Alex Royalty (1-1, 4.44) to the mound.