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Walk off homer sinks RubberDucks 4-3

The RubberDucks were sunk on Tuesday by a Willy Garcia walk off shot.

Walk off homer sinks RubberDucks 4-3
Second baseman Ronny Rodriguez continued his early season struggles finishing the day 1-4. (Photo: John Kuntz)
April 8, 2014
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Altoona, PA – Entering Tuesday evening, Willy Garcia of the Altoona Curve was hitless in eight at-bats, including five strikeouts.  In the bottom of the ninth inning, he made up for his poor start with a walk-off, solo home run to seal the victory for the Curve 4-3 over the Akron Rubberducks. 

Tyler Sturdevant, a 27th round selection out of New Mexico State University in 2009, surrendered the long ball and took the loss, his first decision of 2014. 

Veteran journeyman Kyle Davies, made his first start of the 2014 campaign. Davies logged six innings, while surrendering two earned runs on five hits and one walk.  The righty struck out two while allowing two home runs.  Davies, who has appeared in 151 Major League games and was signed by the Indians in February for organizational depth, threw 51 of his 78 pitches for strikes, good for a 65.4% rate. 

Appearing in relief for the Rubberducks, Shawn Armstrong allowed only one hit, but it came in the form of a solo home run to centerfielder Mel Rojas

The Rubberducks offense failed to capitalize on six hits and five stolen bases, finishing the night 3-9 with runners in scoring position and leaving six men on base.  As a team, Akron walked six times to only three strikeouts.  Second baseman-turned catcher Tony Wolters was the only Rubberduck to record multiple hits, one of which was a double.  Francisco Lindor went 1-4 in the game recording an RBI single in the top the third.  Bryson Myles and Tyler Holt each recorded their first two steals of 2014, respectively; while Jordan Smith scored two runs and swiped a bag.  Myles also tacked on an RBI. 

For Altoona, 23 year-old Joelyn Rodriguez toed the rubber and struggled with his command throughout his five innings, but was able to work out of multiple jams by inducing three groundball double plays.  The lefty out of the Dominican Republic threw 50 of his 80 pitches for strikes (62.5%) and sported a 9-4 groundout-flyout ratio. 

On the night, Rodriguez surrendered five hits and three walks while failing to record a strikeout.   Tyler Sample earned the victory in relief, while also working out of a few self-inflicted jams due to walks.  He finished the night allowing one run on one hit and fanned three Rubberduck batters. 

At the plate for Altoona, Gift Ngoepe, a non-drafted free agent signed out of South Africa, was the only Curve hitter to record multiple hits.  All four of the Curve’s runs came via the home run, all solo shots by Garcia, Rojas, Stetson Allie and Jake Cunningham.  Both would-be base stealers, Ngoepe and Alen Hanson, were gunned down by Wolters. 

With the loss, Akron falls to 2-3 on the young season while Altoona improves to 2-2.  The Rubberducks and Curve will face off again Wednesday for game two of the series.  Taking the hill for Akron will be Gabriel Arias.  The right-hander out of the Dominican Republic is making his first appearance of 2014 following a successful 2013 campaign, which saw him throwing for the Clearwater Threshers (A+) of the Florida State League. 

In 2013, Arias sported a 2.47 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in twelve appearances.  The Indians signed Arias as a non-drafted free agent in December of 2013.  Toeing the rubber for Altoona will be Zack Dodson, making his second appearance and first start this year.  He has thrown one scoreless inning, thus far.  First pitch is slated for 6:30pm ET at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona, Pennsylvania.  

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