Rodriguez delivers walkoff knock for Scrappers over Williamsport
CrossCutter errors spark Scrappers rally in 6-5 walkoff win
NILES, OH- Five errors by the Williamsport CrossCutters in the final two innings of Sunday afternoon’s game gave the Scrappers men on first and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. With the Scrappers down 6-5, Nellie Rodriguez worked the count full with a chance to deliver... and he did.
“I was just sitting on a slider because he threw me like six sliders in the same at bat.” remembered Rodriguez. “I just got more locked in. He threw me three balls and threw me another slider.”
That 3-2 slider was taken for a ride to deep left-centerfield and bounced up against the wall. Both runners scored easily and Rodriguez flew into second with a walk off double; the third walk off win for the Scrappers in the past week.
The Mahoning Valley dugout stormed the field and beat up on the hero Rodriguez in the age-old baseball tradition.
The inning before, after the Scrappers loaded the bases with no outs, Rodriguez flew out for the first out of that inning. He remembered that while walking up to the plate with a chance to put the immediate past far behind him.
“I felt great because in the eighth inning I had a chance to tie the game and I popped up.” said Rodriguez. “I had another chance to win the game and I had to get a hit.”
While Nellie knew the swing was good enough to give the Scrappers a win, manager Ted Kubiak was blinded by the light. Literally.
“I didn’t see where the ball went because of the way the sun is now.” said Kubiak. “But I heard it; it was one of his rocket hits. I knew he hit it good.”
“He had a heck of a day.” exclaimed Kubiak. “Nellie came up big again.”
Before the heroics of Mr. Rodriguez, The Scrappers were down 6-1 in the eighth inning when the script completely flipped in favor of the good guys.
Back-to-back-to-back singles loaded the bases with no outs and, after Nellie’s fly-out, the Scrappers were essentially handed a rally.
CrossCutters reliever Joshua Warner tried to pick off a runner at first base, but made an incredibly errant throw that allowed two runners to score and another to move to third base. James Roberts came through after the lucky break with a single up the middle to cut the Williamsport deficit to 6-4.
On a sunny day in Niles, it was hard to tell whether the right fielder failed to read the ball correctly or if the ball was hit hard enough to get over his head. Regardless, McAdams strolled to second, Roberts flew home, and the Scrappers entered the bottom of the ninth down just a run.
As for the aforementioned errors that kept the Scrappers in the game, two came on the throwing error in the eighth and two more came in the ninth.
The leadoff batter for the Scrappers in the last half of the ninth was the speedy Joel Mejia, who weakly grounded a ball back to the mound. Again, whether the sun was a factor or not, the ball got past the first baseman on the throw and Mejia ran to second, putting him in scoring position right away.
A Cody Ferrell bunt landed Mejia on third with just one out before another whacky error kept the Scrappers going.
Claudio Bautista hit a routine grounder to first base, but the ball bounced off of the glove of first baseman Logan Pierce, keeping Mejia on third, allowing Bautista to reach safely, and setting up the heroic situation for Mr. Rodriguez.
While the luck belonged to the Scrappers for the last three innings, the first six innings belonged to their opponents.
After a brilliant five-inning shutout performance in New York, Scrappers starter Rob Whitenack had a very different five-inning performance on Sunday afternoon.
On 74 pitches, Whitenack allowed four earned runs on seven hits, walked one, and hit a batter. The rocky outing ended up as a no decision.
Meanwhile, as Whitenack struggled for the home team, CrossCutters starter Shane Martin was more than serviceable for the visitors.
In six innings of work, Martin, on 78 pitches, allowed one unearned run and gave up just three hits. He also walked and hit a batter in the fourth inning which almost derailed his stellar start, but the Scrappers couldn’t bring a single runner home.
With the bases loaded and one out in that fourth, James Roberts and Paul Hendrix were both quickly disposed and left the three base runners stranded.
The lone run the Scrappers did manage to score off of Martin came thanks to an error from second baseman Sam Dove, off the bat of Cody Ferrell. After Dove booted the easy grounder, Claudio Bautista roped a double down the line, brought in Ferrell, and grabbed his 16th RBI of the season.
Up 4-1 after six, the CrossCutters struck again in the seventh off of Scrappers reliever Alexis Paredes.
After a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, Paredes had two outs in the seventh before he walked back-to-back batters and allowed a two-RBI double to Phillies 2013 second round pick, Andrew Knapp.
The three batters were the only aversion in an otherwise perfect outing for Paredes. In three innings pitched, the reliable reliever allowed one run on one hit, but walked two and hit a batter.
It was after Paredes left, with the score at 6-1, when all the Mahoning Valley magic happened.
The Scrappers will look to sweep the two game set with Williamsport in their final trip to Eastwood Field of the season.
Starting for the Scrappers is Defiance, Ohio native, former Louisville Cardinal, and Indians’ third-round draft pick, Dace Kime (0-1, 3.12). He toes the rubber against Mitch Gueller (3-3, 5.08) of the CrossCutters.
First pitch from Eastwood Field is set for 7:05 pm on “Organized Dance Night”.