Altoona Loses on Walk Off Wild Pitch

Pribanic pitched seven strong innings tonight, but Altoona couldn't close out the win.

The Altoona Curve went to extra innings for the second night in a row, only this time it was the Richmond Flying Squirrels who came away with a victory, winning by a 3-2 score in 11 innings.  Altoona held a 1-0 lead until the eighth inning, when Michael Dubee allowed the tying run to score.  The game stayed tied until the 11th, when Jose Hernandez delivered a pinch hit, two out single to bring in Jordy Mercer for the go ahead run.  However, the Curve were unable to hold the lead, as Noah Krol had a throwing error to bring in the tying run, and a wild pitch to bring in the winning run for Richmond.

Altoona got a great outing from Aaron Pribanic, who pitched seven innings, allowing three hits, and one run, with no walks and two strikeouts.  Pribanic came out for the eighth inning, and allowed a leadoff hit, which ended his night.  He was very efficient, ending up with 69 pitches, with 48 of those going for strikes.

Michael Dubee came on to relieve Pribanic, and after getting two quick outs, ran in to trouble.  With a runner on second, Pribanic allowed an RBI single to Johnny Monell, with Starling Marte having little chance to catch the runner at the plate.  The throw by Marte allowed Monell to move up to second.  Justin Christian followed that up with a single to left field, although this time Quincy Latimore made a great throw, easily nailing Monell at the plate for the third out.

The game remained scoreless until the 11th inning when Altoona managed a two out rally.  Jordy Mercer drew a walk with two outs, which brought up catcher Eric Fryer.  Fryer, who hit a solo homer in the second inning to give Altoona a 1-0 lead, hit a slow roller to the pitcher, down the first base line.  Richmond pitcher Justin Dowdy tried to tag Fryer, but dropped the ball after bouncing it off of Fryer’s elbow pad.  There was some debate over whether Fryer knocked it out of Dowdy’s hand, although he was ruled safe.  That brought up Jose Hernandez, who hit a single to center, just short of the diving center fielder, bringing in Mercer.

Noah Krol came on to close out the game, and immediately ran in to trouble.  Krol walked the first batter, then allowed an infield single to Christian.  Nick Noonan came up to bunt the runners over in to scoring position, although the bunt came back to Krol at the mound.  Krol went to third to get the lead runner, but threw wild, allowing Joel Weeks to score the tying run, and moving runners up to second and third with no outs.  With Charlie Culberson at the plate, Krol threw a wild pitch, allowing Christian to come in for the winning run.

Altoona wasted a good outing by Pribanic, who was mostly working in the 88-92 range.  Pribanic was working inside and low with his fastball against left handers, and mixing his slider in more often against right handers, while working low and away with his sinking fastball.  The sinker allowed him to get a lot of ground balls, with a 13:5 GO/AO ratio.  He was working inside often, with his fastball running in on left handers, and his off-speed stuff working inside against right handers.

My biggest issue with him has always been a lack of strikeouts.  He’s been clocked in the 91-94 MPH range in the past, but was in the 88-93 MPH range in the Arizona Fall League last year, and was 88-92 MPH tonight.  His sinker looks good, maybe not as good as Michael Crotta or Charlie Morton this year, but it’s close, and getting results.  Unfortunately, we’ve seen with Morton’s last start what can happen when you rely on your defense too much, and Pribanic isn’t working with a mid-90s sinker like Morton.  The key will be improving his secondary stuff, and developing an out pitch.

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