Akron pummels Altoona to improve lead in Eastern League South Division

The Altoona Curve celebrated Hometown Tyrone Night in the conclusion of a four-game set against the Akron Aeros on Sunday evening at Blair County Ballpark. The only problem with that was that it was Akron that did the celebrating on the field with a solid 6-2 victory over Altoona to complete a 3-1 series win. Akron, which leads the South Division of the Eastern League, improved to 37-25, while the Curve drops to 32-29, four and 1/2 games behind the Aeros.
“You can’t take away from teams that pitch well,” said Curve manager Tony Beasley explained. “We are not having good at bats though. We are not getting good pitched to hit and when we are, we’re not being aggressive early in the count on fastballs. Right now, we are chasing balls out of the zone a lot. Definitely we are facing good pitching, but our approaches haven’t been good. We haven’t been having good at bats and being tough outs and making pitchers work. We’re just not doing a good job of that right now.”
Akron starter Dan Denham and Aeros reliever Travis Thompson limited Altoona to four hits, with Jose Bautista supplying all the runs by virtue of a two-run third inning home run, that at the time, tied the score 2-2.
Denham (5-3) struck out six and walked three, giving up only a single to Rajai Davis to open the Altoona first, a Ray Sadler single with two outs in the second inning, a two-out single by Rich Thompson in the seventh, and Bautista’s dinger, which was a shot that was gone from the moment it left the bat. Akron left fielder John Van Every never moved as the ball hit above the left field bleachers, near the Curve hedge after Thompson had walked, also with two outs.
Travis Thompson pitched the final two frames allowing no runs and no hits with two punch outs and one walk.
“I think they just capitalized on mistakes that we made throughout the game,” said Davis in response to a question about the difference in the game. “And we didn’t take advantage of opportunities that we had and we had a lot. Things happen, we have to come back and play tomorrow.”
Akron took the early lead in the top of the second when Ben Francisco walked, Jose Morban beat out an infield hit. Pat Osborn looped a single just over the infield to score Francisco and Van Every singled to right to drive home Morban.
Following Bautista’s two-run shot, the score remained the same until the fifth, when Shaun Larkin singled with two outs and Brad Snyder ripped a ground rule double that bounced on one hop over the right field fence. With runners on second and third, Francisco singled to drive home both runs for a 4-2 Akron lead.
The Aeros then used the long ball to add a pair of insurance scores. Snyder blasted a solo home run with one out in the seventh, and Van Every slammed a base-empty shot of his own leading off the eighth.
Curve Notes: Ben Shaffar had not allowed an earned run in his last 20 appearances, but was touched up for both the Snyder and Van Every homers last night….Bautista continued his hot-hand with the stick hitting .321 (26-81) over the last 22 games, but Jorge Cortes (.380 in his previous 21 games) and Tom Evans (.319 in his last 22 games) both were slowed down by the Aeros pitching staff, both taking the collar with o-for-3 nights….Altoona added right-hander Josh Sharpless to their roster after Hansel Izquieredo was promoted from Altoona to the Pirates Triple-A Indianapolis farm team. Sharpless amazingly did not allow an earned run in 17 relief appearances and 27 innings pitched with High Single-A Lynchburg this year. The 24-year old from Beaver County, PA and Allegheny College in Meadville was 3-0 with five saves at Lynchburg. He had 46 strikeouts while limiting Carolina League batters to just a .081 batting average. Pittsburgh drafted Sharpless in the 24th round of the 2003 amateur draft….Following the series finale against Akron, the Curve traveled to Connecticut for a seven-game roadtrip against both Norwich (a four-game series at Dowd Stadium beginning today) and New Britain (three games beginning on Friday against the Rock Cats).