Patient at-bats and timely hits lead to Senators’ 6-2 win

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Prior to Thursday’s game, the Senators had led in a game just once over the past week. And then it was only a one-run advantage that lasted all of one inning. But against the Altoona Curve at FNB Field on Thursday, Harrisburg jumped out to an early 3-0 lead they never relinquished in their 6-2 victory.

With one out in the second inning, Isaac Ballou hustled his way to a triple on a drive that ended up rolling to the base of the wall in right-center field. Altoona, anticipating a tight, low-scoring affair, brought the infield in and Osvaldo Abreu ripped a single back up the middle to plate Ballou.

A walk to Khayyan Norfork and a bunt single from pitcher Taylor Hill loaded the bases for the top of the order. Alec Keller lined out hard to Chase Simpson at third base but all baserunners got back safely before they could be doubled off. That brought Corban Joseph to the plate and he ripped one off of Altoona starter Yeudy Garcia that trickled into shallow left field and pushed two more runs across to give the Senators a 3-0 lead.

Hill bent but didn’t break as he allowed a run in the third and fourth innings that cut the lead to 3-2. But the Senators came up with a big fifth inning that put the game out of reach. Three walks loaded the bases and the fourth both drove in a run and sent Garcia to the showers.

Abreu then lined a double down into the left field corner that plated two to give the Senators a little breathing room. “He’s got good hands, he’s a strong kid,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “He’s getting better. Defensively he’s been way better than I thought he would be here. He continues to work hard.”

The Curve loaded the bases in the seventh off Hill and Phillips Valdez, but the reliever induced an inning-ending groundout to first to end the rally. In a rare display of emotion, Valdez pumped his fist after recording the out while covering the bag.

“He’s been pretty emotional the last few times out,” LeCroy said. “After he took a stint on the DL, I think he realizes he needs to get going and compete every time out. He’s a great kid.”

Erick Fedde worked a scoreless ninth in the 6-2 victory.

“The guys had a good work day today,” LeCroy said. “They worked hard and hopefully we’ll continue to get on a streak.”

*****

The Nationals can once again mark off another checkbox for Erick Fedde. For the first time in his brief role as a reliever, the 24-year-old right-hander worked back-to-back days. Fedde allowed a leadoff single but struck out two, including the final batter, to secure the win.

“We’ll see how it is tomorrow. It’s all part of the plan, part of the process,” LeCroy said. “I’m sure that was a little different pitching in the ninth inning.”

*****

Joe Blanton made the start for the Senators as part of his rehab assignment and worked a perfect first inning before being replaced by previously scheduled starter Hill…Keller led the hit parade with three base knocks…One of the two runs Hill allowed was yet another home run, the 17th he has given up this season.

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