By Garett Mansfield
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Why it mattered
September 14, 2017 was a monumental day in Altoona’s sports history. With all the success by area high schools, Penn State’s national championships and the titles by Pittsburgh’s clubs are all accomplishments shared by the community. However, none of those were won in Altoona. That all changed when the Curve delivered in Game 3 of the Eastern League Championship Series when the Curve became the first professional franchise to win a championship at home.
The title was the second in franchise history, but the 2010 Curve split Game 1 and 2 of the ELCS, also against Trenton, before finishing the job in New Jersey.
Altoona completed a clean sweep through the playoffs, winning three straight over Bowie and another three against Trenton. What makes that astonishing is the team’s longest winning streak during the regular season was five games. In a historical perspective, the Curve were just the third team since 1983 to sweep their way to the EL title.
Mitch Keller cemented his place in the lore of Altoona’s baseball history by earning Eastern League Postseason MVP during this game. He set the tone in the playoff opener at Bowie when he only needed 90 pitches to throw a complete-game shutout against a team Altoona went 5-14 against in the regular season. Pitching continued to dominate to finish a sweep of Bowie and then claim the first two games against Trenton, a team that won 92 games during the 140-game regular season.
Keller got the ball again with an opportunity to clinch. He was brilliant once again. Despite a pair of runs allowed in the second inning, he neutralized the Thunder lineup with a string of 14 straight hitters retired. All the while, the offense came to life with four runs in the fifth, including Jin-De Jhang’s three-run triple to put the Curve ahead for good.
Aside from the on-field accomplishments, a lot of people remember the crowd form this game. Nearly 4,000 fans were in attendance but they were all into it and not a single one was sitting down while Tate Scioneaux mowed down the final three hitters in the ninth inning.
11:11 – Zach Zehner RBI groundout (Trenton 1, Curve 0)
12:25 – Rashad Crawford RBI double (Trenton 2, Curve 0)
51: 39 – Keller closes out third straight 1-2-3 inning
1:05:40 – Jerrick Suiter draws bases-loaded walk (Trenton 2, Curve 1)
1:07:55 – Jin-De Jhang three-run triple (Curve 4, Trenton 2)
1:27:30 – Keller closes seventh inning with seventh strikeout
1:42:30 – Keller gets big whiff to finish his outing
1:42:57 – Keller gets ovation for strong start
1:47:22 – Curve cut down runner at home
1:49:44 – Johnny Hellweg escapes bases-loaded situation
1:59:12 – Tate Scioneaux takes over for the ninth inning
2:04:18 – Final out – Curve win EL Championship
2013 Curve-Pirates Exhibition Game
Altoona hosts Stephen Strasburg’s MiLB debut for Harrisburg
This contribution to the Around the Curve Blog is presented by Microtel. Plan your stay at one of Altoona’s three Lion Country Lodging locations. Click here to make a reservation today.