Scrappers have season to remember

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Gregori Vasquez throws a pitch.

NILES — Austen Wade smiled as he exited the first base dugout at Eastwood Field.

He had his reasons.

Sure the Mahoning Valley Scrappers had their season ended Monday by the Vermont Lake Monsters in the semifinals of the New York-Penn League playoffs.

Advancing would’ve meant the Scrappers were back in the NY-PL Championship Round for the first time since 2009, the last time Mahoning Valley made the postseason.

The Scrappers won 11 of their last 14 games prior to losing the first two of the three-game series to Vermont and captured the Pinckney Division.

Scrappers manager Luke Carlin watches on from his post as third-base coach during Monday’s New York-Penn League playoff semifinal against Vermont. The Scrappers won the Pinckney Division and made the postseason for the first time since 2009.

Wade, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round of this year’s MLB Draft out of Texas Christian University, knew being sent to the short-season Class A Scrappers was something he’d never experienced — going all the way back to his days in Midland, Texas.

“This is a lot of fun,” Wade said. “Since I showed up early July, I got to know a lot of these guys. This is a fun ride. This is a different team.

“I never experienced anything like this. The connection I made with guys three years younger than I am, guys from Latin America and understanding their heritage and background. It’s been a lot of fun. This entire summer has been a blast.”

Luke Carlin, 36, came off his playing days into his first managerial role.

The former catcher couldn’t think of a better place to land than with the Scrappers, who ended the season with a 44-29 regular-season record.

“It’s been great,” he said. “The staff has been fantastic. We’ve had fun all year. The guys responded well all year. We got our work in, developed. It was kind of nice to look up at the end of the year and see how some of the players finished up results-wise. More importantly, how they went about their business every day is fantastic.

“It would’ve been nice to get a ring, but at the end of the day I’m really happy with the first year.”

Wade relished his time with Carlin, who he learned from this season.

“He’s awesome,” Wade said. “I got a couple of times this summer to pick his brain about baseball. I know him being a catcher, me being an outfielder there’s different parts of defense we talk about. The stories in general, you pick his brain, it’s really interesting to see what he’s gone through over his career.”

Carlin’s duties do not end with the Scrappers season being done.

He’ll fly home for a quick visit today and head to Cleveland on Saturday for a development program.

“Short rest, but back at it,” Carlin said.

There wasn’t too many off nights since mid-June with the Scrappers, a team who battled back to win more times than they didn’t.

“Very proud of the guys this year,” Carlin said. “I have not seen a team with so much energy and passion, the ability to fight. Really proud to watch them play this summer. It’s been a learning experience for all of us, certainly something to keep our heads up.”