Balks, walks and errors, oh my! Scrappers blow late lead
September 1, 2012
The Scrappers were eliminated from playoff contention long ago, but the last few nights it has felt like they were in a pennant race. Maybe that’s because their foe, the Auburn Doubledays, are neck deep in a race of their own. And for the Scrappers, that can only mean one thing: spoiler.
Yes, the dreaded spoiler role, the last stop for a team destined to end the season without tasting any postseason glory. Because as we all know, misery loves company. And with Auburn just a game ahead of Batavia entering play tonight, they teeter dangerously close to joining the Scrappers and eight other teams that will end their season prematurely.
But Friday, the Scrappers showed exactly why they are in the spoiler role and not in the postseason hunt: errors, poor late-inning pitching, and in general, bad baseball.
In fairness, the early part of the game appeared to show that the Scrappers were indeed hungry to send Auburn home reeling. A huge five-run second inning provided plenty of pressure. It all started when Evan Frazar and Jorge Martinez singled with one out. Then Aaron Siliga hit into an RBI-groundout to take a 1-0 advantage. Following SIliga were RBI-hits from Hunter Jones and Erik Gonzalez to make it 3-0. But the really big hit came from Joey Wendle. Down in the count 0-2, Wendle drilled the next pitch deep into the August night; clearing the fence and extending the Scrapper lead to 5-0.
“It was 0-2 and I was just looking to stay up the middle. I got a good pitch to drive," Wendle said.
For whatever reason, Wendle has been torrid behind 0-2. There are no stats readily available in short-season A-ball to quantify such a claim, but anybody who has watched Wendle hit this year can echo the same sentiment. In fact, he made it happen again in the ninth, taking an 0-2 pitch the other way for an RBI base hit.
“Down 0-2, I’m just trying to stay short, and stay up the middle, and take the ball wherever it’s pitched. Maybe it’s something I need to stick to a little bit more without any strikes, but I got two good pitches to hit 0-2, that’s something a lot of times you don’t see. So I was fortunate tonight," Wendle said.
Despite Wendle’s three 0-2 RBIs, the Scrappers would come up short. The Doubledays would never admit to it, but if they were scoreboard watching, they saw Batavia leading Williamsport 4-2. Maybe that had some effect on what unfolded in the next three innings as they stormed back with eight runs to make 8-5.
In the sixth, it was starter Morel giving up a pair of runs. Then in the seventh, it was his replacement, new Scrapper Alexi Paredes, giving up a pair, one earned and one unearned. Even still, that only made it a 5-4 game, with the good guys still holding down a slim lead. That was, until the horrendous eighth inning.
Another new arm, Harold Guerrero, came in looking to earn a hold, or maybe even a save. But boy did things go wrong. In all, he gave up four runs. Two were of the unearned variety as the Doubledays were aided by two more Scrapper errors in the eighth. First, it was third baseman Jorge Martinez committing an error, allowing a would-be sacrifice bunter to reach. Then it was Guerrero himself committing an error that allowed a run to score. And between those errors were two wild pitches, one of which allowed another run to score. Mix in a balk, two base hits and a walk, and Auburn emerged with four runs to take an 8-5 lead.
The Scrappers grabbed another run in the ninth off of the Wendle single, but it was too little, too late, as the eight runs were enough for Auburn to secure the victory. Taking the win was Doubleday Ronald Pena, while Guerrero was charged with a loss and blown save. The Scrappers now have one last chance to play spoiler. That will be tomorrow night, as they finish off the set and the home season at 7:05.
Matt can be reached via email at email@example.com, or followed on Twitter @MMillerBaseball.