Led by ace Mitch Keller on the mound, the Altoona Curve completed their second straight postseason series sweep on Thursday as they defeated Trenton, 4-2, to claim the Double-A Eastern League title.
It marked the second championship in franchise history for the Curve. They last won in 2010, when they beat Trenton in four games.
MILB Video - Title: Altoona claims EL title - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1832730583
Keller, Pittsburgh's No. 2 prospect (No. 19 overall), dominated en route to his second postseason win in as many starts, allowing two earned runs on four hits over 7 1/3 innings. He issued one walk, struck out eight and generated 11 ground-ball outs in the performance.
Keller cruised through the top of the first inning, registering a pair of strikeouts as he retired the side in order on eight pitches, only to be tagged by Trenton for two runs on three hits in the following frame.
MILB Video - Title: Keller records 8th strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1832788483
That would be the extent of the Thunder's production against Keller in the contest, as the 21-year-old right-hander retired the next 14 batters he faced before allowing a one-out single in the seventh inning to Ryan McBroom.
Keller returned for the eighth inning despite having already thrown 90 pitches and proceeded to fall behind in the count against Rashad Crawford before yielding a leadoff single. He walked the following hitter on four straight pitches, prompting a mound visit, but regrouped to strike out one more batter before departing the game with 102 pitches (67 strikes).
• Box score
Right-hander Johnny Hellweg issued a walk to the first batter he faced in relief of Keller but ultimately kept Trenton from scoring, with the big right-hander inducing a pair of ground-ball outs to escape the bases-loaded jam. Closer Tate Scioneaux took over in the ninth and struck out the side in order to lock up the title for the Curve.
Altoona scored each of its four runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Jerrick Suiter pushed across the Curve's first run with a bases-loaded walk before Jin-De Jang cleared the bases with a triple to right field.
MILB Video - Title: Jhang's triple puts Curve ahead - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1832814983
Keller posted a 1.10 ERA with a 0.49 WHIP and 12 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings between his two playoff starts, the first of which saw the young right-hander record his first career complete game and shutout. Altogether, Altoona finished its undefeated run through the postseason with a staff ERA of 1.50 and a 0.85 WHIP in 54 innings. They allowed just 37 hits in that span while compiling 42 strikeouts and nine walks.