Bats come through as Scrappers snap skid

NILES – Mahoning Valley Scrappers fans heard an unfamiliar sound Sunday night at Eastwood Field.

The 2,502 fans on hand for the rain-shortened, eight-inning game against the Jamestown Jammers heard the crack of the Scrappers’ bats against a hardball. That sound of a bat striking a baseball can be heard at any typical Scrappers game, but this sound was different. It had a much sweeter, almost melodious ring to it.

“Our offense had a different sound tonight because we hit the ball pretty hard,” Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak said. “(Hitting coach) Phil (Clark) and I talked to the guys before the game and tried to change the way they’re thinking a little bit, tried to relax them a little bit.”

Kubiak and Clark decided to revise the batters’ approach at the plate – and it worked. After riding a four-losing streak, the Scrappers finally flipped the switch, ignited their bats and concluded their series finale with the Jammers with an 8-3 win.

“We were more aggressive and more confident at the plate,” Scrappers center fielder Greg Allen said. “(Kubiak) felt we were being a little too passive as a team, so he had meeting to get us refocused.”

The results were evident. At the plate, the Scrappers jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning and kept on rolling to score a run in the second, two in the third and two runs in the seventh.

“I just didn’t like the way we were approaching things the last couple of games,” Kubiak said. “You can’t hit if you’re thinking too much. They’re all thinking about mechanics, and I said, ‘You can’t think when you’re in a game.’ “

The players took Kubiak’s advice as a number of Mahoning Valley hitters had multiple hits and runs in Sunday’s contest, including Allen, who had two doubles, an RBI and scored two runs.

“Sometimes all it takes is a good game for things to start to click, and you get on a run, so hopefully that’s what we started here today,” Allen said.

The Scrappers also executed on the defensive side of the ball. The bats provided the runs, but starting pitcher Cameron Hill set the tone of the game on the mound.

In just his second start, he pitched four scoreless innings and only gave up one hit in his brief, nearly seamless outing.

“It’s always good when you’re confident and you’re able to go out there and get good results and you’re able to pound the zone, get outs and not keep your defense to sleep,” Hill said.

Selected by the Indians in the 17th round of the 2014 draft, Hill said his acclimation to professional baseball sank in after his first outing with the Scrappers, which was a rough one. On June 19 against Auburn, Hill gave up two hits and a walk and threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score.

He said all he needed was one bad outing to give him a spark.

“Now I’m just settled in and doing my thing,” Hill said. “I’m just trying to stay on my routine and stay grounded with what’s I’m doing.”

Next up for the Scrappers: The Scrappers will travel to Auburn Tuesday for a three-game road series with the Doubledays.