Scrappers power past Aberdeen

NILES -A quick glimpse at Mahoning Valley Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak’s post-game dinner plate Sunday night showed mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, salad and an unknown slice of meat. Odds are the meat was pork, but there is reason to believe it was some type of hitting-fuel-infused super meat that the Scrappers have been feeding the team the past week.

After Sunday’s 14-3 win over the Aberdeen IronBirds, the Scrappers (14-22) improved to 6-2 in their last eight games – scoring 61 runs on 91 hits over that span. They also won their third straight game and third straight series for the first time this season. Eight players got a hit on Sunday and five had two or more RBIs.

The majority of the damage was done in the seventh inning when the Scrappers posted nine runs off of eight hits – including three doubles, a triple and a home run. Center fielder Bradley Zimmer and catcher Francisco Mejia each had two hits, two RBIs, and scored twice in the inning.

Zimmer believes the struggles earlier in the season are behind the team, and the success will continue.

“Overall just aggressiveness (has helped the team’s hitting),” Zimmer said. “We kind of went through a rough patch a couple weeks ago (but) things are starting to click. We’re pitching better, we’re playing defense and we’re swinging the bats well.

“You hear the term ‘hitting is contagious’ and it showed today. You get into a rhythm and once you start playing everyday you start to get a feel for your swing. It’s definitely a good thing getting to play everyday. Momentum has been on our side, (and) we’re carrying that into our next game.”

Hitting coach Phil Clark said a few weeks ago that he is a “firm believer that things eventually turn around and will start working in our favor.” His beliefs are proving true for the Scrappers.

“Guys have made adjustments and I think it’s that time of the year where I think guys are getting acclimated to pro ball,” Clark said. “Especially the college guys and the guys who have been with us for a while, I think they’re just kind of feeling their swing now and getting familiar with what they can and can’t do.

“I think the routines, just settling in and showing up everyday (are helping). We’ve been working hard. I think confidence level, the mental side plays a big part and making adjustments. So I think that’s what’s going on a little bit here.”

Kubiak has acknowledged a different attitude and approach to the team’s hitting that may attribute to their recent success, but with 40 games remaining, he is focused on the long-term improvements of his team.

“I’d like to think they’re in a different frame of mind. We’ve worked on a lot of stuff (and) we’ve tried to pull back from telling them a lot of stuff because I think it makes them think about too much,” Kubiak said. “We’ve just tried to simplify it to more or less ‘see the ball, hit the ball.’ If that’s the key, then that’s the key. It’s hard to tell.

“I’m not sure (the recent success is) because they’re playing everyday, I think they’re getting in better condition. I think they’re getting used to playing everyday and doing all of the work that we’re doing. Hopefully the talking that we’re doing to them is introducing them to the professional side of the game. They’re buying into it, I think. I hope they’re buying into it. There seems like there is a change. It remains to be seen, there’s still more than a month to go. I’m more interested in looking at what they’re doing the last two weeks of the season.”