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Cannonballs coming: Big day for Taylor Hearn

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

-- Indianapolis (70-73) lost to Louisville, 6-3.  Justin Masterson got roughed up for five runs in four innings.  Willy Garcia was 2-4 with a double.  Austin Meadows was 0-4 with two strikeouts and is now hitting .218 in AAA.

Jung-Ho Kang:  0-3, BB
Jose Osuna:  0-3, BB
Max Moroff:  1-4
Edgar Santana:  2 IP, 3 H, ER, BB

-- Speaking of late-season collapsenings . . . I went to Richmond to see Altoona (75-64) blow its third straight chance to clinch a playoff spot by losing to the Brewers Flying Squirrels, 6-2.  Nick Kingham started and was extremely sharp for four innings, retiring all 12 hitters.  He threw his fastball 90-91 for the first two hitters, then 92-94 after that.  He repeatedly threw his curve and change for strikes.  The result was five whiffs and the rest easy outs, mostly grounders.  His command was outstanding, as he didn't have a three-ball count until the last hitter in the fourth and he had only a couple two-ball counts before that.  In the fifth, Kingham obviously ran out of steam.  His fastball lost a tick, to 91-93, and he couldn't get the secondary stuff over.  He ultimately allowed a triple, single, three walks and, in the end, a grand slam, for six runs, before he struck out the last hitter.  Considering the context, the outing was much more encouraging than not.

Brandon Waddell followed Kingham and pitched the last three innings.  He struggled with the strike zone initially, mainly because he couldn't get anything but his fastball over.  He went to three balls on the first two hitters, but got them both on fastballs.  He ended up retiring the side in order in each of his first two innings, with the second inning being much easier as he started getting strikes with his slider and change.  In his third inning, a walk, double and intentional walk, scattered around two strikeouts, loaded the bases, but he struck out the last hitter he faced with two slow, upper-70s curves, the only times he threw that pitch.  His fastball was 89-91 and he mixed it up a lot with a slider and change.

Altoona hit a lot of balls hard, but they weren't dropping.  The only time the Curve got on the board was a long, two-run blast by Stetson Allie (pictured), his 16th HR.  Allie at least is having a good finish to what will probably be his final season in the Pirates' organization, with an OPS of .826 and nine HRs in 44 games since the Eastern League all-star break.  Barrett Barnes had a double, a walk and a long drive to center that was caught.  Kevin Newman was 0-4, with three routine grounders and a liner to the center fielder.  Altoona gets another chance to clinch tomorrow if they win and/or Harrisburg loses.

-- Bradenton (70-66) lost its final game of the regular season, 5-2, to Fort Myers.  The Marauders, though, are in the playoffs.  Starter Austin Coley gave up a run in four innings.  Buddy Borden gave up two runs in relief to take the loss.  Bradenton had only four hits.

Cole Tucker:  1-3, 2B, BB
Connor Joe:  0-3, BB

-- Taylor Hearn had a tantalizing start as West Virginia (70-68) edged Greeneville, 2-1.  Hearn allowed a run on three hits just one walk over five innings.  He fanned nine and threw 58 of 81 pitches for strikes.  Scooter Hightower retired all nine hitters he faced to get the win in relief.  Carlos Munoz was 2-3 with a triple.

-- Morgantown (38-37) continued its strong finish, beating Mahoning Valley, 4-3, on a one-out, walkoff single by Kevin Mahala in the ninth.  Mahala finished 3-4 with a double.  Stephan Meyer gave up three runs on six hits in seven innings.  He walked none and struck out four.  Will Craig was 1-2 with two walks.