Scrappers pounded again; streak at 4

NILES – Nothing seems to come easy for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

The team has been struggling at the plate this season, but Saturday night at Eastwood Field, the Scrappers hit the ball. They went back and forth with the Jamestown Jammers on the scoreboard and threw pitch for pitch with their New York-Penn League rival.

They even built up a two-run lead and looked pretty confident on the mound through the first five innings. Then the sixth inning ensued, and the slugfest became a blowout in a hurry.

Jamestown batted around and racked up eight runs in the sixth and one final run in the eighth, and the Scrappers didn’t have an answer for the offensive onslaught.

The deficit proved insurmountable as the Jammers toppled the Scrappers by a final tally of 12-5. Now 5-11 on the year and on a four-game losing streak, Mahoning Valley has strengthened its grip on last place in the NY-PL Pinckney Division.

“We’re not hitting and we’re not pitching, and that’s what happens,” Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak said.

Anthony Vizcaya came on in relief of starting pitcher Julian Merryweather in the fifth inning. He gave up one run on a walk, a passed ball and a double but managed to get out of the inning with minimal damage.

He came back out in the sixth inning, and that’s when things took a turn for the worst for the Scrappers.

Vizcaya struck out the second batter he faced, but that was the only positive to pull from the inning.

He went on to give up eight runs on five hits, a catcher’s interference call and a walk. He faced eight batters and only recorded one out in one-third of an inning.

The hits just kept on coming – and in bunches.

“He was throwing the fastball over the plate, and it was pretty obvious they were jumping at his fastball,” pitching coach Greg Hibbard said. “It’s a sign of a young pitcher out there – he got a little frustrated when they got a few hits and then he started overthrowing and when he started overthrowing, his command suffered. Pitches were generally in the middle of the plate, so one thing compounds to the next.”

Edward Estrilla relieved Vizcaya and didn’t do much better. He put away the first batter he faced to get the second out as Scrappers fans gave a collective sigh of relief, but that sigh quickly turned into a grown as Estrilla gave up a three-run homer to the next batter.

“That team’s a good fastball hitting team,” Hibbard said. “They squared up pretty good. (Our guys) just struggled throwing their secondary pitches for strikes and found themselves in the fastball count, and when you do that against a fastball-hitting team, it doesn’t fair your way.”

Estrilla finally got out of the inning, but the damage was already done.

After the deflating inning, the Scrappers couldn’t get the ball rolling offensively like they did earlier.

Mahoning Valley shortstop Austin Fisher, who had two singles, an RBI and a run, said he found the holes early in the game, but the sixth-inning shellacking took the offense’s energy out of the game.

“It made us start pressing, and we know you’re not going to hit an eight-run homer to put yourself back up,” Fisher said. “We kind of got out of ourselves and tried to do a little too much because the strikeouts went up after that.”

As one-sided as the final score suggests, the game didn’t start out that way. It didn’t get ugly until the sixth inning.

For the second night in a row, one bad inning doomed the Scrappers.

“That’s baseball, there’s no guarantees that you’re going to go out there, shut guys out or give up runs,” Hibbard said. “It’s all execution.”

The Scrappers conclude their seven-game home stand and wrap up their three-game series with the Jammers at 5:05 p.m. today at Eastwood Field.

MOVING ON UP: The Cleveland Indians promoted RHP James Stokes and OF Jorge Martinez from Mahoning Valley to Lake County. Stokes was 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA in five games for the Scrappers. He had two strikeouts.

Martinez batted .283 with six hits and two home runs in 12 games with the Scrappers.

FLASH FORWARD: Former Kent State pitcher Eric Dorsch pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Jamestown Jammers on Saturday night. The 6-foot-8 righty racked up two strikeouts and allowed one hit in his fourth outing of the season.

Dorsch was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 15th round of the 2014 MLB Draft.