Punched out

Scrappers blanked at home, swept in playoff series

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Home plate umpire Matt Baldwin, right, calls strike three against Mahoning Valley’s Nolan Jones in the first inning against Vermont Monday at Eastwood Field. Lana Akau is the catcher for the Lake Monsters who won 3-0 and swept the Scrappers in a best-of-3 playoff series.

NILES — Ernie Clement singled to start off the fourth inning.

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers shortstop and lead-off hitter had a well-timed hit after Vermont starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo was untouchable the first time through the lineup.

So was the rest of the Lake Monsters staff.

Luzardo went five innings, while Wyatt Marks, Logan Salow and Michael Danielak all combined for 11 strikeouts.

Vermont held the Scrappers to that one hit as the Lake Monsters finished off a sweep of the New York-Penn League semifinal playoff series Monday at Eastwood Field, 3-0.

“I’d say throughout the summer, he’s one of the top three or four guys we’ve faced as a starting pitcher,” Scrappers centerfielder Austen Wade said of Luzardo. “He had a game plan. He executed it well.”

The Lake Monsters, who won Game 1 by a score of 8-3 on Saturday in Vermont, scored all three of their runs in the top of the third inning — touching up Mahoning Valley starter Gregori Vasquez.

Logan Farrar doubled to score Will Toffey. Back-to-back sacrifice flies by Greg Deichmann Jr. and Jordan Devencenzi accounted for the other two Lake Monster runs.

Other than the third, the Scrappers held Vermont in check with 11 strikeouts. The Lake Monsters had other opportunities to put this game out of reach, but stranded nine runners.

The same couldn’t be said for Mahoning Valley.

After Clement’s single to start the bottom of the fourth, Nolan Jones drew a walk. However, Ulysses Cantu hit into a 6-4-3 double play to quell any Scrappers threat.

Will Benson’s grounder to Luzardo ended the inning, leaving Clement at third base.

Luzardo was lifted in the bottom of the sixth inning. Marks started by hitting Gian Paul Gonzalez. However, Tyler Friis hit a liner to second base, leaving Gonzalez in no man’s land. He was doubled up at first base.

Clement’s ground out ended the inning.

This is a Mahoning Valley team which won the Pinckney Division and made the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The Scrappers had a five-game winning streak heading into their series with Vermont.

“We didn’t capitalize,” Scrappers manager Luke Carlin said. “It’s kind of one of those things they fought all year long. We have fought and come back so many times.

“Tip your hat again. They made some pitches when they needed to and got the job done.”