NILES - Although Mahoning Valley fell to the Hudson Valley Renegades 6-5 Sunday night, the Scrappers have reason to look forward to the rest of the season when they return to action Wednesday after the New York-Penn League all-star break. They enter the break with a series win and gave themselves a chance for the sweep.
The pitching staff didn't give up a hit until the sixth inning and entered the eighth with a 2-1 lead. This is when things briefly fell apart for the Scrappers. Alexis Paredes walked the first two batters, setting up a five-run inning. It would have been easy for the Scrappers to concede defeat; however, they retaliated with a rally of their own.
They got two runs back in the bottom of the eighth and managed only one in the ninth. The Scrappers made it interesting by leaving the bases loaded in the ninth, getting their total of runners left on base to 15 for the game.
Even with the loss, a sense of urgency is resonating from the team as they push to get back to .500. The hottest player on the team the last few days has been Cody Ferrell, who has played in 31 of the team's 51 games after being signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 1. Ferrell went 3 for 4 with one walk in Sunday's game and was 8 for 10 in the series against Hudson Valley. He has improved his batting to .279 on the season.
"I've been doing some work on my swing and it's been feeling a lot better," Ferrell said. "One of my hitting coaches gave me some drills and it's really been helping I've been seeing the ball better and haven't been over-anxious or trying to over-swing. I've been nice and smooth and it's been working."
Ferrell is now playing almost everyday in centerfield and regularly batting in the nine hole. Getting into a routine and a rhythm is something he believes is contributing to his success.
The Scrappers have turned things around since starting the season 7-21. They have gone 15-8 since the slump improving to 22-29. Getting to .500 is a major goal for the Scrappers with 25 games remaining and manager Ted Kubiak holds it to high importance.
"For me it'd be huge," Kubiak said. "Especially after the start we had - with the 12-game losing streak. It'd be outstanding. That's why I've been looking at where they are and they're in a good state right now. Hopefully, it will carry on."
The New-York Penn League All-Star Game in Norwich, Conn. will host five current Scrappers players. Nellie Rodriguez and James Roberts will start at first base and shortstop, respectively. Infielder Claudio Bautista and pitchers Luis Lugo and Matt Whitehouse are expected to make appearances off the bench.
The Scrappers are off Monday and Tuesday for the all-star break and will be back in action Wednesday starting a six game road trip. Mahoning Valley will be back at Eastwood Field Tuesday, Aug. 20 with a make-up "Buck Night."
"When you have days off it affects your timing," he said. "It's a lot easier to play everyday (because) when you play everyday your timing gets on and it stays on.
"Our team is starting to feel each other out and starting to get along a lot better. We're starting to get more cohesive. We're putting a lot more stuff together than we were when we were losing. We're a good team. When we get rolling we're hard to stop and that's what we've been doing lately."