ALTOONA, Pa, August 20 – Time is running out for the Hartford Yard Goats if they hope to make the Eastern League playoffs. The Yard Goats kept themselves in the hunt with a thrilling 5-4 Eastern League victory over the Altoona Curve on Tuesday night.
The Yard Goats scored two runs in the ninth inning to rally and beat the Curve and keep pace with the Reading Phillies, who lead the Yard Goats by five games with 14 remaining in the regular season.
But the Yard Goats (66-59, 29-29 second half) host Reading for a four-game series beginning on Thursday at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford – an opportunity to gain ground in a head-to-head battle with their chief opponent standing in the way of a playoff berth. Trenton won the first half title in the Eastern Division so Hartford has to finish ahead of Reading to earn a playoff berth.
Hartford coughed up a three-run lead in the eighth inning. But they rallied in the ninth.
With one out, Altoona reliever Blake Cederlind walked Hartford’s Brian Serven and Carlos Herrera. Pinch-hitter Colton Welker hit a RBI single to center field to tie the game at 4-4 as Serven scored from second base. Altoona intentionally walked Manny Melendez to load the bases.
An infield ground ball from Vance Vizcaino drove in the go-ahead run for Hartford.
Yard Goats closer Scott Griggs retired the side in the ninth inning for his 14th save of the season.
The Yard Goats took a 1-0 lead with a pair of triples in the third inning. Carlos Herrera started the inning by cracking a triple down the right field line off Curve starter Beau Sulser. Two batters later, Melendez smashed a triple into the right field bullpen scoring Herrera and giving Hartford a 1-0 lead.
Hartford starting pitcher Matt Whitehouse was terrific and retired the first seven batters en-route to hurling five scoreless innings. The Yard Goats added a run in the fifth inning, as Herrera scored on a double play grounder, and another run in the seventh on Mylz Jones sacrifice fly, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Altoona scored a run in the seventh inning to make it a 3-1 game. The Curve rallied for three runs in the eighth to take their first lead. Logan Hill cranked a two-run homer over the centerfield fence to put the Curve in front 4-3.
Hartford closes out the three-game series in Altoona on Wednesday night before returning home to Dunkin’ Donuts Park. The Yard Goats have won six of their last seven games.
The Yard Goats had cut Reading’s lead to four games following a three-game sweep over Portland over the weekend but fell back a game with a 3-0 loss on Monday night to the Curve while Reading beat Trenton.