ALTOONA, PA — The New Hampshire Fisher Cats had a solid lead early on but couldn’t maintain it, dropping an 8-5 decision to the Altoona Curve Saturday night at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
The Fisher Cats (28-33) plated five runs in the fourth to assume a four-run lead, but the hosts slowly chipped away at it before taking the lead for good late in the game. Altoona (36-24) burnished their league-best winning percentage and recovered from the 14-1 drubbing they suffered at New Hampshire’s hands on Friday night.
The Curve drew first blood in the bottom of the third against New Hampshire starting pitcher John Anderson. Stetson Allie squared up a fastball and deposited it well over the left-field fence for his ninth homer of the season, putting Altoona ahead 1-0.
New Hampshire struck back in a big way in the top of the fourth. Consecutive singles from K.C. Hobson and Dwight Smith put runners on the corners, and Pierce Rankin drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Matt Newman lifted a sacrifice fly that advanced all the runners and tied the game, and Pierce Rankin cracked a single through the right side to give New Hampshire a 3-1. Dalton Pompey then blasted his third homer in two days to make it a 5-1 Fisher Cats lead.
Altoona answered with a run in the bottom half of the fourth. Willy Garcia drew a leadoff walk, and with two outs, Allie smoked an RBI double to left to plate Garcia and make it a 5-2 ballgame. The Curve tacked on two more in the bottom of the fifth, as Gift Ngoepe smacked a leadoff homer off Anderson, and Willy Garcia sliced a single to left to score Max Moroff from second with two outs, trimming the New Hampshire lead to 5-4.
The Curve surged ahead in the bottom of the seventh. Reliever Scott Barnes hit leadoff man Josh Bell and was pulled for Danny Barnes (L, 2-, who got Garcia to fly out to center. However, Jose Osuna singled and Edward Salcedo drew a walk to load the bases. Allie whiffed, but Jacob Stallings ripped a three-run double into the left-center field gap, and Gift Ngoepe followed with an RBI single against new reliever Chad Girodo to give Altoona an 8-5 edge.
Anderson took a no-decision in the game, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk while whiffing three in five innings. Scott Barnes gave up a run on one hit and a walk in one inning of action. Danny Barnes was saddled with the loss and surrendered three runs on two hits and a walk, fanning one and recording only two outs. Girodo gave up three hits and allowed an inherited runner to score, fanning one in his 1.1 innings of work.
New Hampshire will try to take the rubber match Sunday night at 6:00 p.m, with Fisher Cats righty Austin Bibens-Dirkx toeing the slab against Altoona right-hander Angel Sanchez. Radio coverage will begin at 5:45 with Ben Gellman on the WGIR Fisher Cats Radio Network and at www.nhfishercats.com.
The Fisher Cats will return home on June 19th to face Binghamton at 7:05 p.m. on an Atlas Fireworks night, with a Family Sleepover and Scout Night! Tickets are available at www.nhfishercats.com or by calling the ticket office at (603)-641-2005.