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Rubberducks Fall in Home Opener to Curve 4-3 in 10 Innings

Baseball is Back at Canal Park!

With game time temperatures below 40 degrees and a chance of wintery mix in the forecast, it still felt like baseball thanks to the fans braving the cold here in Akron. To kick off the 2024 season, the team came down to the 3rd base side section and were announced on to the field to line up for the National Anthem.


1st pitch was at 7:07pm with a pitching matchup of #29 LHP Doug Nikhazy for the Ducks vs. #54 RHP Bubba Chandler for Altoona.

1st inning: After Nikhazy gave up walk to Cheng with one out, he threw to 1st to catch him attempting to steal 2nd and he was thrown out at 2nd. He walked Glenn only to get Bowen to ground to SS for the force out at 2nd. Petey Halpin led off the game and the season with a base hit to CF. The much-anticipated 1st at bat for Chase DeLauter ended on a ground ball to 2nd for the force out on Halpin. Kahlil Watson flew out to deep left center field for out number two. After a walk by cleanup hitter Alexfri Planez, 3rd baseman Dayan Frias struck out with "Ducks on the pond". I'll be overusing this pun this season so buckle up fans!

After Nikhazy set down the Curve hitters 1-2-3 to start the second, Akron was able to get on the board. Aaron Brancho led off with a single to right. With runners on 1st and 2nd and two out, Petey Halpin hit a double to left center field driving in the first 2 runs of the game. Chase DeLauter grounded to end the inning. Akron led 2-0 after two.

It remained a 2-0 game until the bottom of the fourth.  After a Bracho strikeout, a new pitcher entered for Altoona in RHP Grant Ford, a 5th round pick (154th overall) out of Nevada. Ford walked his 1st batter, Milan Tolentino. Naranjo flies out to left. A base hit past the Curve SS by Kody Huff moves Tolentino to 3rd. Halpin stays hot with a base hit to right scoring the game's 3rd run. Halpin was 3-3 on the night. DeLauter flies out for the 3rd out.

The Rubberducks increased their lead to 3-0 after 4.

Nikhazy stayed sharp through 5 innings with 5 K's and no hits allowed. His night was done after five as Greg DiCenzo went to right hander Jordan Jones. Jones walked his 1st batter. The Curves #9 hitter Matt Frazier gets the 1st hit of the game with a double down the RF line. Altoona had runnners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. Gonzalez hit a grounder to 2nd scoring the first Altoona run of the night. A few raindrops are began hitting the press box window. With two outs #3 hitter Jackson Glenn lined a single to center scoring the runner from 3rd. Bowen hit a tapper back to the mound to end the inning. The Curve bats woke up with the pitching change and they cut the Akron lead to 3-2.

It remained a 3-2 game heading to the 9th inning. Jack Leftwich gave up a double to the Curve's Jackson Glenn to start the 9th. A balk moved him to 3rd base. A wild pitch then scored Glenn from 3rd to tie the score at 3. Leftwich was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

In the bottom of the 9th the Curve went to Isaac Matson on the mound. Naranjo and Huff became the first 2 outs of the inning. Hot hitting Petey Halpin popped the ball up behind second and short only to have the ball dropped by the SS. Halpin was thrown out trying to get to 2nd base with DeLauter on deck. Bonus baseball here on opening night.

In the top of the 10th Trey Benton came on to pitch for the Ducks. With Seth Beer starting on 2nd base, he moved to 3rd on a fly ball out and scored on an infield hit to SS by Matt Frazier. Cheng flied out to right for the 3rd out. Altoona led 4-3.

Petey Halpin started on 2nd base in the bottom of the 10th. DeLauter walked. Watson flied out to short for the 1st out. Planez goes down swinging for out number two. Dayan Frias was the final hope for Akron, but he grounded into a force play at second to end the game. The Rubberducks drop their season opener 4-3 to Altoona.

Isaac Matson picked up the win in relief for the Curve while Benton was saddled with the loss. Petey Halpin led the Akron offense going 3/5 with a double and 3 RBI. Nikhazy had a stellar 5 innings allowing no hits and walking two while striking out 5.

The teams are back at Canal Park on Saturday at 6:05 PM for game two.



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