One and done

NILES – One bad inning doomed the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Friday night at Eastwood Field.

The Jamestown Jammers roughed up Scrappers starting pitcher Luis DeJesus as Mahoning Valley surrendered three runs on three hits and a walk in the second inning to start off the game down three. Mahoning Valley fought back and put up two runs and six hits on the scoreboard, but it was too little too late. The Scrappers fell to the Jammers 4-2 and dropped to 5-10 on the season.

So far this season, it’s been the Scrappers’ production at the plate that has come under scrutiny, but in this game, mound efficiency was under fire.

DeJesus did not look sharp at all atop the hill, which raised some questions and cause for concern on the part of Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak and pitching coach Greg Hibbard.

“I don’t know what’s going on with DeJesus, he struggled all day,” Kubiak said. “It was taking him forever to throw the ball. I’ll have to find out what’s going on there, he’s certainly not himself. I’ve seen a different guy.”

The Jammers rattled DeJesus in the first inning. The leadoff hitter ripped a double down the left-field line, and DeJesus walked the three hitter and threw a wild pitch to put two runners in scoring position. He got out of trouble with a couple of pop-ups, but mentally, the inning wore on him, Hibbard said. He had already thrown 35 pitches in just one inning.

“In that first inning, he seemed to get real methodical about the way he was working and it kind of slowed the tempo of the game down, and he wasn’t real aggressive with his stuff in the strike zone,” Hibbard said. “He threw a lot of pitches there in the first inning, it probably took a lot out of his tank.”

Jamestown capitalized on DeJesus’ tentativeness and struck for three runs in the second inning. After DeJesus caught the leadoff man looking, the Jammers loaded the bases with a single, double and walk. Jamestown scored the first run on a fielder’s choice and the next two runs came across on a two-out RBI double to right center field.

Hibbrard said DeJesus felt good when he came out of the bullpen, but once he got into a jam, he began to sweat.

“He doesn’t get away with a lot of mistakes in the middle of the plate, and that two-out base hit with runners in scoring position kind of hurt him a little bit,” Hibbard said.

Dejesus lasted three innings, gave up four hits and three runs and recorded three walks and two punch outs. His start was not much improved from his last time out June 21 at Batavia. In that contest, Dejesus didn’t make it past the fourth inning. He surrendered five runs on seven hits and recorded three walks and only one strikeout.

Kubiak touted that DeJesus, who played with the Scrappers in 2012 and returned this season, used to paint the corners of the strike zone with pinpoint precision, but he couldn’t find the plate Friday.

“I thought he was hurt for a while there, but I think he’s fine,” Kubiak said. “He certainly doesn’t have the pinpoint control he used to have.”

Justin Garcia came on in the fourth to relieve DeJesus and picked up his teammate by throwing three scoreless innings.

“Garcia did a real good job, he went out and put up three zeroes in the middle part of the game, gave us a chance to come back,” Hibbard said.

The Scrappers seized that chance in the fourth inning thanks to a two-run double by catcher Fransisco Mejia.

“He’s got that big, funky wild swing on both sides of the plate,” Kubiak said. “He’s got a lot of power and he’s been putting the bat on the ball.”

Despite Mejia’s push, the Scrappers couldn’t scratch another run. They knocked on the door with runners in scoring position in the fifth and seventh innings, but couldn’t bring anyone around.

The Scrappers and Jammers return to action at 7:05 tonight at Eastwood Field.

BACK AT EASTWOOD: Luke Holko, 8, threw out the first pitch of Friday’s game. Holko was hit in the back of his head by a line drive at a Scrappers game back on Sept. 9, 2009. At the time, Luke was 4. Now, nearly 5 years later, Holko is doing well.