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Curve stumbles in 4-2 loss to Erie

The Altoona Curve are deeply involved in a race for the second playoff spot in the Southern Division of the Eastern League. If that sounds like the Curve is going in a lot of directions at once, that must have been the way the team felt on Wednesday afternoon. In the last Businessman’s special with a 1:35 start time, Altoona feel to the Erie Seawolves 4-2.
In the process, Curve pitchers walked 11 batters and hit another. Starter Adrian Burnside set a franchise record by walking eight. Burnside pitched a very uncomfortable one-hitter over five innings, leaving the game with his team trailing 2-0.
“It was just one of those days,” said the left-handed hurler, who hails from Alice Springs, Australia. “I tried to do well enough to keep the team in the game. Unfortunately we didn’t score enough runs. Today it wasn’t just any pitch, I was having trouble with every pitch. I had trouble with nearly everything. My changeup probably saved me from giving up five or six runs today. When I had to, I was able to make a good pitch, like the double play in fifth inning. All you can do is battle.”
Rod Lindsey opened the Erie first with a basehit. Burnside then walked Kurt Airoso, Cody Ross and Jhonny Perez in succession to force in a run and leave the bases loaded with no outs. Burnside reached back to retire the next three batters to escape without any further damage, getting Charley Carter on a foul pop, Jorge Sequea on a pop fly to Burnside in front of the mound and striking out Jorge Meran.
In the fifth, Airoso walked for the third straight time and Ross for the second time in three trips. Burnside induced Perez to hit into a Shawn Skrehot-to-Kevin Sefcik-to-Carlos Rivera double play with Airoso moving to third base. With Carter batting, Burnside allowed score Airoso with a wild pitch for a 2-0 Seawolf lead.
“Adrian just wasn’t able to get the ball where he wanted to obviously,” said Altoona manager Dale Sveum. “For that matter, he didn’t have command of anything. It was a frustrating day for him and also for our hitters to stand out in the field on defense for 25-30 pitches every inning and then have to come in and concentrate on hitting. Sometimes that takes a toll on the hitters after concentrating for that amount of time in the field. It can wear on you. That makes about three straight odd outings for Burnside, there was really no velocity on the ball. He had an unbelievable outing against Binghamton several weeks ago and hasn’t thrown the ball well since. He has been very inconsistent in his command of anything.”
With Matt Montgomery on in relief, Erie added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the eighth. Meran opened the frame with a walk. Corey Richardson hit into a force play to erase Meran for the first out. Rayner Bautista, the number nine hitter in the order, ripped a double to score Richardson and continued on to third base on the throw. Lindsey, who had three of the Seawolves five hits, singled in Bautista to give Erie a 4-0 lead.
Altoona almost made Erie cash in that insurance in the eighth inning. Shawn Skrehot singled with one out and Sefcik, who went four-for-five, singled to put runners on first and second. J. J. Pearsall relieved Erie starter Jeremy Johnson at this point and struck out Carlos Rivera for the second out. Pearsall walked Shawn Garrett however to load the bases and Brad Edmondson came on to pitch for the Seawolves. J. J. Davis hit a slow grounder that second baseman Jorge Sequea shuffled to shortstop Bautista at the last moment to just catch the force on Garrett barreling into second base for the final out of the inning on a controversial call by the second base umpire.
How much that third out meant was made clear in the Curve ninth when two runs scored to cut the Erie lead in half, but the home club could get no closer.
“You hope the problem is not one of being more used to playing night games,” commented Sefcik. “We came in and did the same things we normally do, take batting practice the same way. Last night’s game was over pretty early, so we got out of here fairly early, not like 11:30 or midnight. At the end of the year, maybe you get more tired in a day game than you would in a night game. Today was a cool weather day, not real hot where you might get tired quicker. You are a professional out there in the field and you need to be able to keep your concentration no matter what. Sometimes the pitchers struggle, sometimes the fielders struggle. You just have to stay focused and be ready for every ball to be hit to you. That’s your job out there.”
Sefcik with his big day at the plate raised his season batting average to .315 which ranks among the Eastern League top ten. Kevin has hit safely in 36 of his last 39 games and has batted .399 (59-for-148) during that span.
Rico Washington led off the ninth inning with a single. Joe Caruso hit into a double play to empty the bases, but Brad King walked to start things again. Tony Alvarez singled to left and both runners moved up on a wild pitch by Terry Pearson, now pitching for Erie. Skrehot singled to plate King to break up the shutout. Sefcik followed with another basehit to score Alvarez. Seawolf manager Kevin Bradshaw brought in Homera Rivera. With Rivera facing Carlos Rivera, the potential winning run, the Erie variety got the goods on the Curve Rivera, getting Carlos to fly out deep to center for the final out of the game.
“They were pitching us away some,” offered Carlos Rivera in refernce to the Curve hitting all but about seven or eight balls to the opposite field against Erie pitching, “and we were missing some balls we shouldn’t have. The pitching plan they had worked today, so we will have to go get them tomorrow.”