NILES - Unless you're exhilarated by pitching dominance, action was lacking for the first half of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers game Wednesday night. Through the first six innings, neither the Scrappers nor the Brooklyn Cyclones plated a run, and the two teams combined for five hits.
The Scrappers finally scored on a wild pitch in the seventh, but Brooklyn knocked in a two-out, RBI double in the eighth to ultimately send the game into extra innings.
The game was stagnant for the next four innings until the Scrappers finally won the extended 12-inning game by a score of 2-1 after Leo Castillo hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and no outs.
"I feel beautiful," Castillo said after the first walk-off hit in his life. "I tried to look for a good pitch, and it worked."
Castillo has been one of the strongest and most consistent hitters for the Scrappers, especially as of late. He is hitting .316 with two home runs and seven RBIs in his last 10 games. He also is leading the team with 32 RBIs, five home runs and three triples.
"I've been working with the hitting coach (throughout the season) and I feel like I'm hitting better now," he said.
The Cleveland Indians organization saw their newly acquired left-handed reliever, Nick Maronde - who started a game for the first time in two years - for the first time since receiving him for cash considerations from the Los Angeles Angels. Maronde was the Angels' third-round draft pick in 2011 and has pitched in the big leagues for portions of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. He started this season at the major-league level but was demoted to the minors in May after underperforming with a 12.79 ERA in 6 1/3 innings. His last MLB appearance was on May 7 against the New York Yankees, when he gave up three earned runs without recording an out.
Maronde showed his potential though, throwing two shutout innings, allowing only one hit with one strikeout.
"I felt pretty good," Maronde said. "I was able to command the ball to both sides of the plate (and) I was able to throw some off-speed stuff, the defense made some good plays behind me. I thought today was a good day, it was a big win.
"Just getting the command back for all of my pitches and limit hits in deep counts. I thought I was able to do that tonight. It's a good step to build off of."
Maronde has pitched with the Arizona League Indians since the trade in mid July, calling his time there like "extended spring training." He believes his progress is moving in the right direction and realizes it is up to him to pitch his way through the minor leagues and beyond.
"I was throwing bullpens and long tossing with (the Arizona League Indians)," he said. "It was almost like spring training, getting ready for the season. (So getting back into the groove) isn't too big of a deal.
"(Moving up) all of that depends on how I throw. The organization has to sit back and see how I throw. I'm just excited to get my work in and go from there. It all falls on me and how I throw. Where I am, I just want to compete like I did tonight and be able to throw the ball well."
Pitching coach Greg Hibbard liked what he saw in Maronde's pre-game bullpen session and first action since joining the team Tuesday.
"I liked his warmup," Hibbard said. "His routine was really good before the game and he really found his rhythm with his fastball command. He was a little off on his secondary stuff, which is expected (because) he hasn't been out there in a while. He probably wasn't as sharp as he'd like to have been but I thought he battled through the two innings and was in a comfortable position."