Seawolves take extra-inning affair from Curve to end season

The Curve had already clinched the second Southern Division playoff spot before Erie rolled into Altoona. It was a good thing because the Seawolves, the hottest team in the Eastern League with nowhere to go but home, took four of five over the Labor Day weekend from the Altoona Curve, including the season finale on Monday night 4-2 in 12 innings.
Neither starting pitcher was around for the finish. For the Curve, manager Dale Sveum was quick to include that none of his pitchers threw a lot of innings and that everybody should be ready to go Wednesday in Akron for the first game of the postseason playoffs.
“Obviously, it (extra innings) was not something we wanted to see,” said Sveum. “Nobody threw a ton of pitches luckily. Camp and McDade threw about what they had to and unfortunately Chrysler sucked it up and went back out there tonight after throwing a lot of pitches last night. So, we kept the damage to a minimum. We’re O-K going into Wednesday and Fordham (Tom, a lefty from Nashville, who was 5-2 with a 3.17 in 13 games with the Curve earlier this season) coming, so that gives us another arm.
Fordham will take the roster spot of Sean Burnett, who went on the seven-day Disabled List retroactive to Saturday, Aug. 30 with a sore left elbow. Burnett led the Eastern League in wins with a 14-6 mark and was fifth in both ERA (3.21) and innings pitched (159 2/3) in 27 starts. Burnett will miss all of the playoff series with Akron, unless he is ready to come back Sunday and the series goes into the fifth game, which would be played Sunday, in Akron.
Over the first three innings of Monday’s ballgame, Curve starter Ian Oquendo allowed only Dan Kelly to reach base, walking the Erie shortstop in both the first and third innings.
In the top of the fourth, Jack Hannahan dropped a bunt down the third base line for the first hit of the game for the Seawolves. Max St. Pierre singled Hannahan to second with one down and with two outs, Nook Logan delivered a clutch single to left to drive in Hannahan.
Erie added an unearned tally to their lead in the fifth. Matt Walker doubled to begin the frame. With one out, Leo Daigle singled hard to right field with Walker stopping at third. Curve right fielder Sean Garrett let the ball get behind him and Walker scored on the error. Hannahan was safe on an error by first baseman Chris Shelton. Altoona turned a double play, on a line drive to third baseman Ray Navarrete to Shelton at first to easily get Hannahan, who was running on the play, to get out of the inning without further damage.
Erie starter Adam Pettyjohn, who pitched in 16 games for the Detroit Tigers in 2001, pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning on three hits, before the Curve got to him to tie the score.
Pettyjohn, a lefty who was out of baseball in 2002, following a colonectomy due to ulcerative colitis was forced to undergo three operations after losing 50 pounds.
With one out in the seventh, J. R. House singled and was pinch run for by Ray Sadler. Josh Bonifay walked and Chris Heintz dropped a base hit in front of Seawolves right fielder Derek Nicholson to load the bases. Chris Duffy drove in Sadler with a sac fly to left and Ray Navarrete singled sharply to left to score Bonifay with the tying run.
Seawolf relievers Carlos Cordova (two scoreless and hitless innings) and Mark Johnson (three scoreless, one-hit innings) combined to keep Altoona off the scoreboard until their teammates were able to score a pair in the 12th inning for the victory. Johnson picked up the win, fanning three and walking none.
“We haven’t faced very many lefties lately and against Erie we had to face three lefties in a row,” said Sveum. “I don’t think that helped some of our bats that had been going real good lately. We have been very resilient all year. I have all the confidence in the world that we will bounce back and do it again.”
Neal McDade (three innings, no runs on one hit) and Shawn Camp (two scoreless innings on two hits with two strikeouts) kept the Curve close, but the Altoona hitters couldn’t crack the Erie hurlers.
Altoona had their chances early. Garrett belted a two-out triple in the second, Bonifay singled leading off the third and advanced as far as second, and Chris Shelton opened the fourth with a double to right-center. All three runners were stranded in scoring position.
“I think a lot of guys in here who have put together a lot of good years and done a lot of good things,” said Shawn Garrett. “There were situations where the guys on this team picked each other up during tough times this year, just like we’re getting ready to do right now. We are going to come together and try to make a run at the playoffs.“
Altoona, which finished in second place, opens the South Division playoffs at Akron, the division winner on Wednesday and Thursday, before returning to Blair County Ballpark for game three on Friday, Sept. 5, and Saturday, Sept. 6, if needed. If the two teams split the best of five series, game five will be back in Akron on Sunday, Sept. 7.
The attendance for the season finale was 5,362 to bring total season attendance to 365,376, setting a new franchise record for the fourth straight year.

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