NILES - Before the real firework show took place at Eastwood Field, Mahoning Valley Scrappers fans saw an offensive outburst during the game against the Williamsport Crosscutters.
Unfortunately for the Scrappers, they weren't the ones who put on the show. The Crosscutters scored seven runs in the first three innings and cruised to an 11-6 win over Mahoning Valley on Thursday night.
The Crosscutters (9-7) belted two home runs and totaled 14 hits in the winning effort.
Tribune Chronicle / David Dermer
Mahoning Valley pitcher Robert Whitenack delivers a pitch on Thursday night against the Williamsport Crosscutters.
"We didn't do anything until the seventh when a different pitcher was in it," Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak said. "What can you say? A combination of things and you wind up with a loss."
Throughout the game, errors doomed the Scrappers (7-11), starting in the second inning.
With two outs and runners on second and third, Malquin Canelo hit the ball to Scrappers third baseman Robel Garcia on what looked to be a routine ground ball. Garcia mishandled the grounder, allowing Gabriel Lino to score. Both Canelo and left fielder Samuel Hiciano scored on a double from Justin Parr and a single by Gustavo Martinez.
In the next inning, second baseman Claudio Bautista botched a grounder by Andrew Pullin, who scored on a two-run home run by Dylan Cozens one batter later. Also, in the ninth inning, Bautista committed another error, which led to two more Williamsport runs.
Overall, the Scrappers had four errors, which led to five unearned runs.
"We had some errors that probably cost us maybe five runs," Kubiak said. "Robel's cost us three right off the bat. That doesn't help."
The defense didn't help starting pitcher Rob Whitenack, who went four innings in the loss. The Queens, N.Y., native couldn't recover from Garcia's error in the second and Bautista's in the third, as the Crosscutters started to pile on the runs with hits after costly errors.
Whitenack gave up nine hits and seven runs, three of which were earned, and he struck out one of the 23 batters he faced.
"Whitenack needs to get his pitches, he needs to throw his innings, he needs to get his work in," Kubiak said. "So, he wasn't going to come out till we got close to what he was supposed to throw. Unfortunately, it didn't look like he was able to pinpoint too much, and they swung the bats well."
The Scrappers got some offense going in the eighth and ninth innings, highlighted by Juan Romero's blasted over the left-field fence that left the crowd mesmerized.
For seven innings, however, the only Mahoning Valley run came from an inside-the-park home run by center-fielder Cody Ferrell in the third inning. The 23-year-old McLoud, Okla., native skyed a 2-2 pitch to left field, and Hiciano tracked it down to the warning track. Hiciano jumped up and grabbed the ball, only to lose it on the way down and watch it roll away.
Ferrell rounded the bases, and in the end, it was ruled to be an inside-the-park home run.
"He didn't get back to the wall in time - he didn't get back far enough," Kubiak said. "He fell into it. Just circumstances and it happened. It hit his head, and he couldn't get up after that."
The Scrappers face Williamsport again at Eastwood Field tonight at 7:05 p.m.