CURVE, Pa. - Reigning Pirates Minor League Player of the Year Robbie Grossman set the tone with two hits including a homer, two runs scored, and two batted in, and the Altoona Curve, with the benefit of hits from all nine in the order, rolled past the Erie SeaWolves 7-4 in front of an Opening Night of 5,354 Thursday at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Grossman paced a Curve offense that tallied 14 hits, double Erie's total, and saw five players post multi-hit nights. The center fielder led off the night with a single in the first inning, later scoring the Curve's first run on a wild pitch as part of a three-run first, and then cranked the first homer of Altoona's season, a two-run shot in the second to extend the Curve's lead at the time to 5-1.
Altoona starter Mike Colla allowed a run in three of his four innings worked including the top of the first inning when Brandon Douglas, plunked by a pitch to get aboard, moved to second on a walk and scored on Rawley Bishop's seeing-eye single through the left side. Colla was effective through his abbreviated night, recording three strikeouts to counter two walks and working with the benefit of early run support.
Brock Holt, Jarek Cunningham, and Tony Sanchez all added hits in the first inning with Cunningham driving home Holt with a double and then scoring on Sanchez's triple to give the Curve a 3-1 advantage. One inning later, it was Quincy Latimore's two-out single off Erie starter Jay Voss (L, 0-1) that set up Cunningham's jack to build on the lead. Voss exited after 4.2 innings having allowed five earned runs on eight hits en route to the loss.
After Colla's departure, relievers Matt McSwain (1-0), Duke Welker, and Kyle Cofield (S, 1) combined to shut down the SeaWolves. McSwain entered in the top half of the fifth and pitched brilliantly over his two innings of work. The right-hander allowed just one baserunner out of seven men faced, a one-out walk to Tony Plagman in the fifth. Aside from that lone blemish, McSwain struck out three and earned the victory.
Welker followed McSwain with two strong innings of his own, retiring the side in order with a strikeout in the seventh to begin his night. In the eighth, the SeaWolves crept to within a run when they cashed in Rawley Bishop's one-out double on a passed ball and a Jordan Lennerton sacrifice fly to make it 5-4. With Lennerton at second base after a Latimore error allowed him to reach and advance, Welker slammed the door, freezing Bryan Pounds and Robert Brantly on back-to-back looking strike threes to end the threat.
The Curve rebounded and distanced themselves to put the win away in the bottom half of the eighth. Jeremy Farrell and Matt Curry reached on consecutive singles to lead off the frame, Curry's on a perfectly laid bunt aimed originally to merely sacrifice Farrell to second. After Ramon Cabrera sacrificed the pair to second and third, Latimore came through with a two-strike single to bring in both runs for the night's final margin.
Cofield (S, 1) pitched around a two-out Jamie Johnson double to earn the safe in the ninth.
--Altoona Curve Media Relations--