NILES - Tyler Naquin had a professional debut to remember, and then he got a great seat to see the Mahoning Valley Scrappers walk off with a 2-1, 11-inning win over Jamestown in their home opener Wednesday night.
The Cleveland Indians' first-round draft pick went 3 for 4 with a double before getting pulled after seven innings at Eastwood Field.
Three innings later, Jamestown pitcher issued a bases-loaded walk to Juan Romero with one out, and the Scrappers moved to 2-1 on the season.
Tribune Chronicle/?R. Michael?Semple
Mahoning Valley’s Tyler Naquin reaches second base after hitting a double in the third inning of the team’s home opener Wednesday.
The play brought cheers from the 5,122 in attendance, but for most of the game, all eyes were on Naquin - no matter what he did.
"It's great to be here in Mahoning Valley with these fans - they're all so supportive," he said. "So I just wanted to go out there and play, and be calm, and be myself. When I'm myself and stay calm, I can help the team out in a lot of ways."
Naquin helped the Scrappers in the top of the first when he caught a routine fly ball in center field, and then fired the ball on a line to third base to hold a runner at second. The throw elicited more cheers from the fans, who watched every move the Texas A&M graduate made.
"I take a lot of pride in making a throw, and I told our pitcher that no one is going to go two on a ball hit in the gap," he said.
"Sure enough a ball was hit in the gap, and I'm going to bake a throw as hard as I can and as accurate as I can."
In the bottom of the first, he ripped an 0-2 fastball so hard, shortstop Yeison Hernandez barely had time to react.
Two batters later, he swiped second base when pitcher Mason Hope thres a 2-2 changeup in the dirt.
He was stranded there, but that didn't stop him showcasing more of his skills.
In the third inning, the lefty took a 2-1 fastball down the left-field line for a double.
Once again, he followed up a great at-bat with a dazzling play in the field. This time, he caught a lazy fly ball with a runner on second who didn't dare move from the base when Naquin launched another ball to third base.
He finished his hitting display in the fifth when he took a 1-1 changeup up the middle for a single. His only failure at the plate came in the seventh when he couldn't catch up to Scott Peoples' 1-2 fastball, which rode up high and inside.
The Scrappers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Charlie Valerio shot a double down the right field line.
Six pitches later, he ran home when Wendle bounced a grounder that hopped right over Anthony Gomez's glove at second base.
"We all just wanted to come out and get good at-bats tonight," Wendle said. "You don't ever want to try and do too much - especially in that situation with a runner in scoring position."
The Jammers finally answered in the seventh when Juancity Martinez flung a looping liner into left field, just over a drawn-in infield to score Jose Behar, who doubled to lead off the inning and advanced on a sacrifice bunt, from third."
But is was once again Wendle who found himself in the middle of a rally - this time in the bottom of the 11th inning. Right after Valerio loped a single into left-center field, he bounced a ball right over Gomez's glove at second base.
Paying attention and being aggressive, Wendle then noticed no one was covering second, so he took off for the base, and mad it in safely before there was even a throw.
With runners on first and secons, and a rattled Ryan Berglund on the mound, Louis Head was intentionally walked. That set the stage for Evan Frazar who grounded to second base, where Gomez got the force at home.
Romero then immediately worked a 3-0 count, which was too much of a whole for Berglund, who uncorked the next ball to the backstop, and allowed Wedle to trot home with the winning run.
"It's always fun to score the winning run," Wendle said. "I've never played in front of this many people before, and it's good to win your first home game, which was a very exciting one."