Spicy at Eastwood

Tempers flare during ‘Peppers in Oil’ night

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Matthew Roberts Henderson De Oleo, center, was ejected from Saturday’s game after charging the mound against Hudson Valley.

NILES — For the first time all season, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers have fallen below .500.

Suiting up in green and red jerseys as the “Peppers in Oil”, they lost to Hudson Valley, 5-3.

“I really liked the way our guys played today,” Scrappers manager Dennis Malave said. “I know we didn’t hit much, but we played the game the right way. This is a game that shows how we’re going to continue to compete every single game. I think our guys competed the whole game, all the way until the last pitch. They made some good plays on their side, we made some good plays on our side, so it was a really good game for both teams.”

Tempers quickly flared as Henderson De Oleo struck out swinging in the bottom of the second. While the team was walking to the dugout, De Oleo walked toward Hudson Valley pitcher Daiveyon Whittle and exchanged words. De Oleo then tried to hit Whittle on the head with his helmet. De Oleo and Whittle both were ejected.

According to Malave, Whittle was trying to rush the pace, frustrating De Oleo.

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Charles Marsh Scrappers’ Raynel Delgado makes a play on a grounder during Saturday’s game against Hudson Valley. The Renegades won, 5-3.

“Their pitcher was trying to work as fast as he could,” Malave said. “Our hitter went in the box and he wasn’t 100 percent right in the head so he called timeout, which is what he’s supposed to do, and their pitcher got a little out of control and their emotions got in the way.”

The Scrappers didn’t get on base until Eric Rodriguez, who came in to replace De Oleo, singled on a ground ball to left field, registering their first hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning.

They first got on the board in the seventh inning with a George Valera two-run home run that scored Ray Delgado.

The Scrappers have been erratic on the mound this season, and Saturday’s game was no different. Liam Jenkins started the game and threw two strikeouts, allowing five hits. Despite the struggles, Malave thinks the team is going to be fine.

“I know for a fact our guys are working really hard to execute every single pitch,” he said. “Sometimes things are going in the wrong direction, but they’re working to eventually become big league pitchers and execute every single play. We’re learning, and they’re going to be okay. Our pitching coach and the players are working hard to continue to get better every single day.”

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Charles Marsh Mahoning Valley Pedro Alfonseca, left, strikes out during Saturday’s game against Hudson Valley.

Francis Cespedes came into the game in relief for Jenkins. Cespedes allowed three hits, one of which was a home run by Renegades right fielder Beau Brundage.

The Scrappers (14-15) are back in their normal uniforms as look to recover against the Renegades today at 4:05 p.m. Like every game for Malave’s team, it’s another great chance to learn.

“It’s another opportunity for our guys to get better,” Malave said. “We’re going to have (Matt) Turner. He’s a strike thrower. He’s going to compete on the mound and give us an opportunity to stay in the game and hopefully win it.”

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Charles Marsh Scrappers pitcher Liam Jenkins fires one from the mound.