Scrappers’ fans in feeding frenzy after win

NILES — Chicken and pizza are going to be on the order of the day for plenty of Mahoning Valley baseball fans, courtesy of the Scrappers.

The Scrappers offer a promotion that gives fans a free chicken sandwich every time Scrappers pitchers record 10 strikeouts in a game. Fans also earn a pizza whenever the Scrappers score three or more runs.

Friday night at Eastwood Field, the Scrappers fed a sellout crowd of 6,091 fans in an 11-4 win over Auburn.

A trio of Scrappers pitchers rebounded from a rough start to record 12 strikeouts in the game. The Doubledays scored four runs in the second inning to take a short-lived 4-1 advantage. The Scrappers answered with seven runs in their half of the second and never looked back.

Scrappers starter Hunter Gaddis, making just his second appearance of the season, worked three innings, giving up four runs on four hits. He recorded three strikeouts. However, Matt Waldron was stellar in relief. The righty — a recent 18th-round draft pick out of Nebraska — worked four scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.

Waldron’s seventh strikeout of the night, which came in the top of the seventh inning, was met with a thunderous response from the crowd.

Francis Cespedes pitched the final two innings, giving up just one hit and striking out a pair.

“Great breakout game, that’s the type of night we were looking forward to for a long time,” Scrappers catcher Yainer Diaz said. “I think it was just a matter of time. We knew we had the bats. We knew we had the pitching. We just had to put things together.”

After snapping their nine-game losing streak on Thursday, it appeared as though the Scrappers’ success might be a one-and-done affair. Auburn sent seven men to the plate in the second inning, scoring four runs. Albert Carillo started the scoring with an RBI single. Two batters later Landerson Pena knocked in a pair of runs with a double.

However, in the bottom of the second, the Scrappers sent 11 men to the plate while logging their biggest single-inning outburst of the season.

The Scrappers pounded out seven hits in the inning — including two from Michael Cooper. Will Brennan and Bryan Lavastida each knocked in a pair of runs in the frame, while Cooper and Diaz each added an RBI.

“That was a sweet inning,” Cooper said. “The thing is, coach (Dennis) Malave kept telling us during our losing streak just to stay even-keeled, just stay with the game plan. We did that, knowing that things would work out.”

Cooper entered the game batting just .206.

“Personally, I needed a game like that,” Cooper said. “I don’t ever remember having two hits in one inning before. It felt like a great relief.”

The Scrappers pounded out 15 hits on the night. Cooper and Diaz led the charge with three hits apiece. Brayan Rocchio, Johnathan Rodriguez and Lavastida each had a pair of hits.

“I think hitting can become contagious,” Cooper said. “We strung some hits together in a couple of different innings tonight. I really feel as though we can carry this over to (today) and beyond. Baseball is a funny game. We went on a bad streak, but now we can very well turn this into a long streak in the other direction.”

The Scrappers and Doubledays conclude their three-game series tonight at 7:05. The Scrappers will be seeking their first three-game winning streak of the season.

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