Scrappers’ streak ends
NILES — All good things must come to an end.
And so it was Monday at Eastwood Field as the Mahoning Valley Scrappers fell 8-6 to Batavia in front of 1,815 fans.
The loss snapped the Scrappers’ winning streak — the longest of the season — at four games. The Scrappers were looking to earn their first four-game series sweep in franchise history.
The Scrappers entered the game as the hottest team in the New York-Penn League. They had won nine of 11 games immediately after losing nine straight.
Also coming to an end was Bryan Lavastida’s 15-game hitting streak. The Scrappers catcher, who entered the game with a .355 batting average, went 0-for-4. He walked in the seventh inning.
Lavastida grounded into a double play to end the game.
“The hitting streak was the last thing on my mind, that was never once a focal point over the past two weeks,” Lavastida said. “I’m just looking to get better each day, to improve with each at-bat.
“Right now we’re all focused on winning games, whatever it takes. This is the time of the year when you really try picking each other up and playing as a team.”
With 13 games left in the regular season, the Scrappers (31-32) remain 3 ¢ games behind West Virginia in the Pinkney Division of the NY-PL.
For the Scrappers, Monday’s game was a roller coaster ride similar to the season in general. The Scrappers took the lead in the second, surrendered the lead in the top of the third and regained the lead in the bottom of the third.
Batavia tied the game at 4 in the fifth, then took the lead for good in the seventh.
The Muckdogs earned the victory in part to an inning in which they scored a pair of runs without putting the ball beyond the infield. The top of the seventh began with Harrison Dinicola and Albert Guaimaro reaching on back-to-back infield singles. Scrappers pitcher Francis Cespedes rebounded to retire two batters on a popup and a strikeout. However, Cespedes proceeded to throw a pair of wild pitches, issue three walks and balk in a run.
The Muckdogs left the bases loaded in the inning, but they added single runs in both the eighth and ninth innings.
Brayan Rocchio, Will Brennan, Yainer Diaz, Johnathan Rodriguez and Michael Cooper all collected a pair of hits for the Scrappers. Cooper had a pair of RBIs while Rocchio hit his third home run of the season.
Despite the loss, Lavastida is confident the Scrappers will remain in the thick of the playoff hunt the remainder of the season.
“We’re having so much fun as a team right now, the dugout is full of life, the clubhouse is like a big family gathering,” Lavastida said. “Even tonight, we never quit. We kept battling and had a chance until the final out. That’s a great sign.”
Lavastida, along with teammates George Valera and Rocchio, will now head to Staten Island where they will take part in the NY-PL All-Star Game, held Wednesday. The rest of the team has its only two-day break of the season.
“It’s an honor, it’s going to be exciting and it’s pretty special to be going to represent this team,” Lavastida said. “It’s all a part of the process of trying to improve my game day by day.”
The Scrappers return to action Thursday when they begin a three-game series at Williamsport. The Scrappers will then play three games in Auburn before returning home Aug. 28 for the final seven games of the regular season.