BOSTON – With two outs in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game, it appeared to be the same story as the previous 29 games for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
Minimal offensive production, a few botched plays in the field and an impending notch in the loss column. But everything about the game against the Lowell Spinners was far from ordinary.
The Spinners hosted the Scrappers at Fenway Park in Boston for the ninth annual Futures at Fenway Classic.
The Scrappers took to the same field as the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox and rallied for a big-league effort in the ninth inning.
Mahoning Valley scored five runs, all with two outs, in the final frame and held on in the bottom half for a 6-1 victory.
“It was great,” Scrappers second baseman Steven Patterson said. “Everybody was putting together good at-bats and it was about everybody not wanting to be the last out and that carried on through the inning.
“I think everybody will cherish this day for a long time.”
Lowell relief pitcher James Shepard retired the first two batters in the top of the ninth. The next batter, Taylor Murphy, faced a full count before hitting a single to left field. Shane Rowland and Yonathan Mendoza each walked before Ordomar Valdez drew a walk that scored Murphy, making the score 1-1.
Greg Allen then was hit by a pitch, scoring Rowland, before Patterson hit a three-run double to the left-centerfield gap for a 5-1 lead.
“It was a rush,” said Patterson, who also singled in the third inning. “I’m speechless about it. It was such a great feeling that I can’t even put it into words.”
Bradley Zimmer, the Indians first-round draft pick in this year’s draft, hit a double off the Green Monster in left field that brought home Patterson to close the scoring.
“We were ready,” Zimmer said. “It got to the point where we believed we could pull it off. It was a close game all along and all it took was for it all to come together.
“We had a lot of energy in the ninth inning, so it was good to get that base hit. It was so exciting to put one off the Monster.”
The Scrappers outhit the Spinners, 12-7. The win improves Mahoning Valley to 10-20 on the year.
“Pretty neat for it to happen in Fenway,” Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak said. “I have to give them credit. They’re hanging in there and this was a really nice win for us.”
The Spinners (12-18) scored first in the fourth inning as Sam Travis reached on an error by the shortstop, Mendoza, and came around to score on a single by Mauricio Dubon. Dubon hit a grounder through the right side to Allen in right field. Allen nearly threw Travis out at home, but Scrappers catcher Francisco Mejia dropped the ball.
It was an unearned run charged to starting pitcher Kieran Lovegrove. The 19-year old last 4 2/3 innings, allowing five hits, walking two and striking out two.
“I think that outing would have felt good anywhere, but maybe it made it more special here,” Lovegrove said. “I can’t describe how amazing it is to be in this park. To walk around and see all the landmarks and take in all the history is one thing, but going on the mound and performing well is amazing.
“My fastball felt good all day. I figured if I could get them out with a fastball, it was going to be a good day.”
Lovegrove faced Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino who was making a rehab appearance with Lowell. The 10-year Major League veteran has been on the disabled list since May 23 with a hamstring injury. Lovegrove got Victorino to fly out to left field and center field in the first and third innings, respectively. Victorino walked in the fifth when Jordan Carter was pitching.
“That was pretty crazy – an honor, really,” Lovegrove said of facing Victorino. “You could tell he’s a big league ballplayer with his approach and style in the box.”
Mahoning Valley nearly got a run across in the seventh inning. Valdez singled on a full count and tried to score on Patterson’s ground ball to Travis, the first baseman. Travis threw home and catcher Jordan Procyshen applied the tag just before Valdez’s left hand swiped over the plate.
“There were probably more close situations in that game that affected the game, prior to the ninth inning, then any game I’ve ever seen,” Kubiak said. “The play at the plate was really close there and maybe things go different earlier if that run counts.”
The Scrappers grounded into three double plays through the first three innings. Mejia threw out two would-be base stealers and nearly had a third on a close play at second base in the fourth, but Lowell’s Jordan Betts was safe on the play.
Mahoning Valley pitcher Luis Gomez allowed one hit, walked two, but strikeout three to close out the ninth inning and earn his third win of the year.
The Scrappers remain in Massachusetts for a 7:05 p.m. game today at Lowell’s home field, 30 miles away from Boston.