Offense stumbles as Scrappers lose doubleheader
Valleycats sweep doubleheader thanks to strong pitching
Niles, OH - Thanks to a rain-soaked Wednesday, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Tri-City Valleycats played a doubleheader Thursday, with both games scheduled for seven innings. Mahoning Valley’s pitching staff performed extremely well, allowing only seven hits combined. But the offense once again faltered, and the Scrappers dropped both games.
Game one of the double-dip was a pitcher’s duel throughout the first seven innings. Both defenses made costly errors, leading to a 1-1 tie heading into extras, but it was the Valleycats offense that finally broke through in the eighth, leading to a 4-1 victory.
Dace Kime, a 2013 third-round selection out of the University of Louisville and Defiance, Ohio, started the game for the Scrappers on a tight pitch count. Kime threw two perfect innings with 62% of his pitches going for strikes. He struck out two on the night. Matt Whitehouse dazzled through three innings, but a defensive error by first-baseman Nellie Rodriguez cost Whitehouse the win. Tri-City’s Ronnie Mitchell led off the fifth inning with a routine chopper to the first baseman, but Rodriguez failed to move his feet and allowed the ball to roll into right field. The Valleycats then laid down a sacrifice bunt, followed by an RBI single by Ryan Dineen. The hit was the only one allowed by Whitehouse in the game. His final stat line –three innings pitched, one hit, zero walks, zero earned runs, and two strikeouts- was spectacular, but he didn’t earn the victory due to the error.
Trevor Frank (0-2, 4.26 ERA) entered in the sixth, and threw two effective innings before the struggles began. In the top of the eighth, Frank surrendered two singles to start the inning, followed by a two-RBI double to leadoff hitter Tony Kemp, a fifth-round selection out of Vanderbilt. Kemp advanced to third on the throw home, and later scored on a wild pitch, effectively closing the door on the Scrappers.
Though the pitching staff put forth a solid effort only allowing four hits and just one walk, the offense was a different story. Tri-City starting pitcher Adrian Houser pitched well through 5 1/3 innings, the Scrappers approach at the plate was poor. Batters were swinging and missing often and couldn’t seem to figure out Houser’s off-speed pitches. The early swings led to lazy flyouts and pulled groundballs for most of the game. The Scrappers lone hit came on a Claudio Bautista bloop-single in the bottom of the second. The only run for Mahoning Valley came in the sixth when center fielder Cody Ferrell reached on a throwing error by Houser. Houser then walked Paul Hendrix and was removed from the game. Relief pitcher Charles Basford then entered and walked two more, leading to Ferrell scoring on the walk.
For Tri-City, Adrian Houser went 5 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit, two walks and zero earned runs while striking out four. Basford recorded his first blown save of the year by allowing the inherited run to score. He finished his night by throwing 2/3 innings, allowing zero hits and two walks. Richard Rodriguez (3.0, 0.00) earned the victory by throwing two perfect innings.
The nightcap of the doubleheader, much to the chagrin of the 4,835 Scrappers fans at Eastwood Field, played out like the opener, with both pitching staffs pitching well until Tri-City broke through in the top of the sixth. Mahoning Valley recorded only two hits and didn’t reach scoring position all game. Tri-City starting pitcher Tanner Bushue threw a gem, lasting six innings only allowing two singles while striking out five. He threw 45 of his 65 pitches for strikes, a 69% total. Following the stellar performance, Bushue now sits at 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA. Andrew Walter pitched a perfect seventh to earn his first save of the year.
For the Scrappers, starting pitcher Kenny Mathews threw two perfect innings while striking out three. Cole Sulser relieved Matthews and lasted three innings, surrendering just one hit. The lone run for Tri-City came off of Alexis Paredes, who allowed just two hits and one run. The staff collectively struck out nine while walking zero.
Mahoning Valley has now lost nine in a row heading into the final game of a four-game series with Tri-City. Luis Lugo (1-2, 2.14) will face off with Kyle Westwood (1-1, 0.49). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.