NILES - After clinching the longest losing streak in club history with Saturday's series-opening loss to the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers attempted a Major-League style ceremony to turn things around.
Well, somewhat like the movie Major League, anyway.
On Sunday afternoon before a game against Vermont at Eastwood Field, the Scrappers sacrificed five bats in the parking lot, hoping the bad vibes would burn up in the process.
"It's not a very good (atmosphere) in the clubhouse," Josh McAdams said. "We even had a bat sacrifice. We just took them out in the parking lot and lit them on fire, try to get something going to have everybody cheer up."
Unfortunately for Mahoning Valley, the ceremony didn't work, as the Lake Monsters scored five unanswered runs from the third inning on to beat the Scrappers, 5-1. The loss stretched Mahoning Valley's losing streak to 12 games.
While the end result wasn't one for which the Scrappers (7-21) were hoping, it seemed like it worked.
In the first two innings, Mahoning Valley got three hits and had five batters reach base.
That led to the Scrappers taking the lead when right fielder Brian Ruiz drove in Manuel Boscan with a sacrifice fly to right field in the second.
The lead didn't last long as the Lake Monsters (12-15) tied it up the next inning through an RBI single by Jaycob Brugman, scoring B.J. Boyd.
"We jumped out to the lead (Sunday) - just unable to hold it," McAdams said. "It's been that way for a few games in this streak."
Boyd scored the game-winning run for the Lake Monsters in the fifth inning, coming home by designated hitter Tyler Marincov's two-out double. The runner scored thanks to a bad bounce off the wooden base along the wall lining foul territory in left field, taking McAdams by surprise. The ball bounced off to his left and rolled a little ways, and Boyd crossed the plate starting at first base.
"There's no possible way for me to read that ball," McAdams said. "I tried my best to get in front of it and try to make sure it doesn't get by me. Anything can happening. You have to prepare for everything - find a way to get in front of that ball next time and not allow that runner to advance."
Vermont further cemented the lead in the eighth inning with two home runs. First baseman Ryan Huck pegged the left field foul pole to open up the inning, while third baseman Luis Baez parked a two-run shot that left the ball park in left field.
For a team that was reeling coming into the series after being swept by Batavia, the Lake Monsters look to have hit a turning point in the season.
"We're getting it together," said Vermont's Boog Powell, who went 4 for 5 at the plate. "We struggled against (Batavia). We couldn't get the bats together and finally then finally getting them together (against Mahoning Valley) and coming up in clutch situations."
As for the Scrappers, they still have the worst losing streak in the team's history hanging over their heads. McAdams said that the Scrappers haven't given up and will keep fighting to break the streak.
"Tomorrow's a new day," McAdams said. "Maybe even have to burn some more bats. We're going to do whatever we have to do to get this win."