By JOE SIMON
NILES – Jamestown manager Dave Turgeon issued a playful warning to Mahoning Valley manager Ted Kubiak about the wildness of his pitching staff prior to Wednesday’s game.
“He said, ‘Look out,’ ” Kubiak said with a laugh.
Kubiak and the Scrappers probably should have taken him seriously.
In a wild game that included four straight Scrappers being hit – along with numerous other bloopers – Mahoning Valley received a game-winning walk with the bases loaded, picking up their first victory of the season in a 7-6 win at Eastwood Field.
“I have never seen four hit batsmen on four consecutive pitches like that,” Kubiak said. “That’s a new one on me.”
The game appeared too much like the first two of this series early on – low scoring and a loss for Mahoning Valley. The Scrappers entered Wednesday scoreless in the first two games of the season, and the streak reached 22 innings as Jamestown (2-1) took a 6-0 lead in the fourth. Mahoning Valley (1-2) finally broke through in the fifth inning as right fielder Juan Romero hammered a shot to left-center field that bounced high off the wall, missing a home run by only a foot or two. Romero scored when he narrowly beat a throw home on a single to center by Claudio Bautista.
“I was already getting my post-game talk ready,” joked Kubiak of the 6-0 deficit. ” ‘Keep your heads up boys. It’s going to change.’ And it sure did.”
The craziness began in the sixth. After striking out the first batter of the hitting, Jamestown pitcher David Jagoditsh hit four consecutive players to bring in a run and make the score 6-2. Despite the consistent plunks, no Mahoning Valley players made a move toward the mound, although Nellie Rodriguez, who was hit earlier in the game, flung his bat to the ground and glared out at Jagoditsh. Six total Scrappers were hit in the game and one Jammer.
“Turge told me that guy (Jagoditsh) just couldn’t throw strikes,” Kubiak said. “Neither could the last guy. But I’ve never seen anybody that wild. Sheesh.”
The last player to be hit was Nick Hamilton, son of Cleveland Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton. Nick maneuvered partly out of the way at the last second, and the ball skimmed off the top of his helmet to bring in a run and keep the bases loaded. Unfortunately, the “rally” was shortlived as Romero hit into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
“I’ve never really been in a situation like that before where a guy had hit three guys on three straight pitches,” Hamilton said. “It was a crazy game. I just looked up at the scoreboard, and I’m obviously no math major, but we have more runs than hits today when you combine the two teams. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before in a high-scoring game like this. It’s just one of those games. It was crazy.”
The poor play by Jamestown spilled over into the seventh. With two outs and men on first and second, Robel Garcia hit a towering fly ball to shallow right field, but the first baseman, second baseman and right fielder all stared aimlessly at the sky and came up empty. The ball dropped about 10 feet to the right of the right fielder, allowing both runners to score and Garcia to reach third on what was ruled a triple because no “physical” error occurred. Rodriguez made it 6-5 when his hard-hit grounder to third was bobbled by the Jamestown third baseman.
The Scrappers tied it in the eighth thanks to a bases-loaded walk. Mahoning Valley’s bullpen kept the Scrappers in the game after a six-run fourth inning. Three relievers allowed one hit and zero runs over the final 5 1/3 innings.
“(Harold) Guerrero threw really well, and (Manuel) Carmona threw really well,” Kubiak said. “They did a good job.”
Jamestown didn’t a record an out in the ninth. Axel Diaz walked Rodriguez, the leadoff batter, on four pitches, and then another strange play occurred. Jamestown’s right fielder dropped a fly ball, and then he tried to get the force out at second but fired an errant throw that went all the way to the backstop, allowing the runners to go to second and third. After an intentional walk to Hamilton loaded the bases, the game ended on a four-pitch walk to Romero.
“Just a Penn League win I guess,” Kubiak said. “That’s the only way you can describe that thing.”