NILES – Two nights after being on the wrong end of a no-hitter, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ struggles at the plate continued in the friendly confines of Eastwood Field.
The Scrappers did manage to record six hits against the Jamestown Jammers on Tuesday night, but both runs were unearned as the Jammers scored four unanswered to win, 4-2.
Mahoning Valley (23-35) had seven innings where it went three up, three down, including multiple innings where the lead-off batters reached base but didn’t advance any further due to a double play by the next batter.
“We’ve struggled a lot,” Mahoning Valley manager Ted Kubiak said. “Every night, we find a way to lose. We do something to hurt ourselves. We’ve worked on stuff, and they work really hard. It’s just a matter of executing when you have to, and we haven’t done it.”
The bats couldn’t get it together for starting pitcher Caleb Hamrick, who pitched six innings of three-hit baseball and held onto a 2-1 lead when he left the game.
Relief pitcher Carlos Melo couldn’t hold that lead when he gave up two runs in the top of the seventh. Jamestown’s Jin De-Jhang led off the inning with a double down the right-field line and scored on a Wyatt Mathisen single, and Michael Fransoso scored on an Erich Weiss single later in the inning to take the lead.
The Jammers (36-23) added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, when De-Jhang once again led off the inning with a double and scored off a Mathisen sacrifice fly.
“I think that’s who we have to be,” Jamestown manager Dave Turgeon said. “If they embrace who they are, they’ll execute those things more often than not, and I think the team as a whole knows that we need to move runners over, we need to play small ball and manufacture more often than not.
“We certainly don’t rely on home runs.”
Despite the bullpen failing to hold the lead, Kubiak said he was pleased with his pitchers’ performances.
“He pitched well,” Kubiak said. “I thought Melo threw well, too. He had a little trouble with his control, but he threw great. I thought that they hit the ball. They got a lot of good hitters over there.”
Both of the Scrappers’ two runs in the fourth inning were unearned as Weiss, Jamestown’s third baseman, fielded a James Roberts grounder and missed the throw to second, allowing both Roberts and Claudio Bautista to be safe. The two scored off a Robel Garcia sacrifice fly to center and a Paul Hendrix single up the middle.
The Jammers pitching staff buckled down after that, allowing just two hits the rest of the way.
“Our defense and offense picked up our pitching last night,” Turgeon said. “Tonight was a great response night for our pitchers because they didn’t hold their own yesterday. They picked us up.
“Mahoning Valley, they’ve pitched all year. They’ve done a great job on the mound – look at the numbers. Scotty Erickson does a great job over there, teaching those guys how to pitch and attack the zone. So, I was very happy with our pitching tonight because they were aggressive, they did pound the zone.”
The Scrappers and Jammers square off in Game 2 of the three-game set today at Eastwood Field. The game starts at 7:05 p.m.
- RUIZ’S BUNTING ERROR: One example of the Scrappers failing to execute came in the bottom of the eighth, during right fielder Bryan Ruiz’s at-bat with no outs.
The right fielder’s job was to move Martin Cervenka, then the tying runner, from first to second by bunting the ball, but instead of laying down the bunt, Ruiz started running out of the box. The bunted ball hit him out of the box, and he was ruled out by contact. The runner on first couldn’t move forward.
In the end, the Scrappers stranded two runners in that inning.
“I don’t know what the bunter was doing, why he’s running out of the box and trying to bunt instead of just bunting,” Kubiak said. “We keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”
- TURGEON’S DILEMMA: With the Jamestown Jammers tied atop the Pinckney Division and 16 games to go, manager Dave Turgeon has to find a balance between individual development and team success.
The race for a playoff spot in the New York-Penn League can help some of the players adjust to situations they will face further up in the farm system or even at the major-league level, so Turgeon can find ways to create a happy-medium.
“For the most part, we try to keep things the same and maintain a balance of development and winning,” Turgeon said. “If that means late defensive replacements or pinch hit here or there, that’s OK because those things are going to happen to them at the next level.”
- ROSTER MOVES: Mahoning Valley has seen multiple players come and go during the team’s recent six-game road trip.
Outfielder Cody Ferrell and pitchers Luis Lugo and Kyle Blair were promoted to Lake County, and catcher Ryan Battaglia was promoted to the Carolina Mudcats.
Lugo pitched five innings and allowed no runs on two hits in his first outing for Lake County, but the Captains lost, 6-0.