Taking One for the Team; Espinal, Curve Walk Off New Hampshire on Hit Batter

Edwin Espinal Altoona Curve
CURVE, Pa. – The Altoona Curve notched their first walk-off victory of the season on Thursday, knocking off the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 4-3, after Edwin Espinal was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.

(Photo: Edwin Espinal. Photo courtesy of Altoona Curve)

Altoona (19-12) beat New Hampshire (11-22) in the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Curve are now 10-2 at Peoples Natural Gas Field in 2017, the best home record for any team in baseball.

Down 3-2 in the ninth inning, the Curve started the rally with a single by Elvis Escobar and a one-out walk by Pablo Reyes. Kevin Kramer singled home Escobar to tie the game at 3-3, extending his on-base streak to 28 consecutive games. After Connor Joe was intentionally walked, Espinal was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to secure the win.

The Curve led 1-0 until the Fisher Cats scored three runs in the eighth inning. Sean Keselica allowed back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases with nobody out. After striking out Harold Ramirez, Keselica induced a ground ball from Richard Urena, but a throwing error by Kramer allowed two runs to score. Gunner Heidt hit a sacrifice fly later in the inning to give New Hampshire a 3-1 lead.

Altoona countered by getting a run back in the home half of the eighth. With one out, Espinal blasted his second home run of the season, a solo shot, to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Altoona scored the first run of the night without the benefit of a hit. Jackson Williams and Escobar walked to begin the bottom of the third inning, and after a sacrifice bunt by Reyes, Kramer hit a sacrifice fly to give the Curve a 1-0 lead.

Altoona did not get their first hit until Jerrick Suiter singled to lead off the fifth inning.

Curve starter Austin Coley pitched a season-high six innings and held the Fisher Cats scoreless, allowing six hits and striking out one. Keselica allowed three hits and three runs (one earned) in 1 2/3 innings. Miguel Rosario (Win, 1-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

New Hampshire starter Conner Greene allowed one run on two hits in five innings, and walked four and struck out three. Tim Mayza (Loss, 1-1) allowed the tying and winning runs to come across in the ninth inning. He allowed two hits, two earned runs and walked two in 1/3 of an inning.

Altoona will continue the brief four-game homestand on Friday for game two in the series against New Hampshire. The Curve will send right-hander Yeudy Garcia (1-2, 4.74) to the mound, while the Fisher Cats will counter with right-hander Francisco Rios (3-3, 3.86). First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

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