Jared Oliva’s RBI single in the seventh inning was the difference as the Altoona Curve defeated the Portland Sea Dogs 5-4 Tuesday at Peoples Natural Gas Field for their seventh win in their last eight games.
Oliva stepped to the plate with two men on and one out in the bottom of the seventh and delivered a go-ahead, RBI single to left-center off Sea Dogs (21-39) reliever Jake Cosart. The Curve (31-30) entered the inning trailing by one before Brett Pope’s game-tying, RBI single to right off Portland starter Denyi Reyes (1-8), who exited after he allowed three straight hits to start the frame. Bligh Madris doubled down the right field line and Arden Pabst followed with a single before Pope tied the game.
Bobby Dalbec gave the Sea Dogs a 4-3 lead on his solo homer to left-center in the top of the seventh off Curve reliever Joel Cesar (1-1). It was the only run Cesar gave up as he went on to retire the side in order in the eighth and eventually earned his first Double-A win.
Matt Eckelman (Save, 7) struck out two batters in a perfect ninth inning to finish off the one-run win. Eckelman, who has saved back-to-back Curve wins, has converted 15 straight save opportunities dating back to last August.
Beau Sulser, who entered in the second inning, allowed just one run in a career-high-tying five innings. He scattered seven hits in his longest outing of the season and worked out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the sixth. Sulser got Deiner Lopez to bounce into a 3-6-3 double play before he struck out Jarren Duran to end the inning and preserve what was then a 3-3 tie.
The Sea Dogs grabbed an early lead with two first-inning runs but Logan Hill answered with a two-run double to dead center to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. Portland regained the lead, 3-2, in the fourth but the Curve answered again when Hunter Owen blasted a solo homer to left field in the following half inning.
The Curve and Sea Dogs continue their three-game series today at 6:30 p.m. Left-hander Sean Brady (2-5, 6.22) gets the ball for the Curve opposite Sea Dogs right-hander Tanner Houck (5-4, 4.24).