Scrappers rally for 3rd win in a row

NILES — On Thursday, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers entered a three-game series against Auburn on a nine-game losing streak, their worst skid in six years.

Just 72 hours later, the Scrappers secured their longest winning streak of the season.

On Saturday, the Scrappers defeated Auburn 6-5 in 11 innings in front of 3,182 fans at Eastwood Field. The three-game sweep over the Doubledays gives the Scrappers (25-29) their first three-game winning streak of the year. The Scrappers had won back-to-back games on 10 different occasions.

The Scrappers last won three in a row exactly one year ago Saturday.

After pounding out 16 hits in an 11-4 win over Auburn on Friday, the Scrappers had to mount a pair of late-inning rallies to earn the sweep.

Trailing 3-0 through six innings, the Scrappers scored a run in the seventh and two in the eighth to send the game into extra innings.

After Auburn took a 5-3 lead in the top of the 11th, the Scrappers scored three runs in the bottom of the 11th without the benefit of a base hit to seal the win.

“Every day, every win and every loss is a learning experience,” Scrappers catcher Yainer Diaz said. “You just have to come to the ballpark every day and get something out of it, win or lose. Doesn’t matter if it is a game or practice. Doesn’t matter if it is a win or a loss, you have to take something away to make you a better player and a better team.

“We had a rough stretch for more than a week but we kept fighting. We had to learn from our mistakes.”

Wildness proved to be the biggest nemesis of the night for Scrappers starter Carlos Vargas (3-5, 5.73 ERA). The righty worked 4 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits. He issued four walks and also threw three costly wild pitches.

Auburn scored the first run of the game when J.T. Arruda walked to lead off the second, advanced to second on a wild pitch and crossed the plate on a Jake Alu single.

The Doubledays added a pair of runs in the fourth. Arruda and Jose Sanchez reached on back-to-back singles to start the inning. The runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Arruda scored and Sanchez moved to third on another errant pitch.

One out later, Sanchez scored on Alu’s second RBI single of the night.

However, the Scrappers scored a run in the seventh on a Johnathan Rordriguez RBI triple. An inning later the home team tied the game on RBI base hits by Brayan Rocchio and Bryan Lavastida.

That set the stage for the wild bottom of the 11th.

A pair of walks and a pair of throwing errors were all the Scrappers needed to score three runs. With the bases loaded and the Scrappers trailing 5-4, Michael Cooper hit a ground ball to Auburn first baseman Albert Carrillo. An attempted forceout at second was thrown into left field, scoring the tying and winning runs.

“We’ve been told all year long that we just have to battle until the final out,” Rocchio said. “You have to put your last loss, your last at-bat, your last error behind you.”

The Scrappers travel to Batavia today for the start of a six-game road trip.