For the second time in franchise history the Altoona Curve, the AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, are Eastern League Champions.
While the 2017 season may not have gone as the Pittsburgh Pirates had hoped, the same can not be said about their Double-A affiliate the Altoona Curve. On Thursday night, the Altoona Curve defeated the Trenton Thunder by a score of 4-2 to capture their second Eastern League Championship in franchise history.
With the victory on Thursday night the Altoona Curve completed a three game sweep of the Trenton Thunder. The Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, is the same team the Curve defeated for their first league championship back in 2010.
Prized pitching prospect Mitch Keller started for the Curve on Thursday night. After facing the minimum in a complete game shut out where he threw just 90 pitches in his first postseason start in game one of the Eastern League Western Division Series the bar was set high for Keller.
While Mitch Keller was not as good as he was in his first postseason start he was excellent once again. In 7 1/3 innings pitched Keller held the Thunder to just two runs on four hits. Keller walked one batter, struck out eight, and he exited with no on and one out in the top of the eighth inning.
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Johnny Hellweg took over for Keller and issued a walk to load the bases. However, he would get the final two outs of the top of the eighth inning to clean things up.
Entering the bottom of the fifth inning the Curve were trailing 2-0. Michael Suchy and Elvis Escobar hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Then with one out Pablo Reyes walked to load the bases.
After Kevin Kramer bounced back to the pitcher, leading to Suchy being thrown out at the plate, Jerrick Suiter walked to bring home the first Altoona run of the night. This set the stage for catcher Jin-De Jhang. The 24-year-old catcher would proceed to hit a bases clearing triple to give the Curve a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish.
After Hellweg cleaned up the eighth inning mess, Tate Scioneaux was called upon to pitch the top of the ninth inning for the Curve. In the most important and high leveraged situation of his professional career, Scioneaux was, literally, untouchable.
Scioneaux proceeded to strike out all three Thunder hitters he faced. These three strikeouts capped off an excellent season for Scioneaux and sealed the Curve’s second ever Eastern League Championship.
Congratulations to manager Michael Ryan and the 2017 Eastern League Champion Altoona Curve!!