Scrappers fall just short of sweep, lose 2-1 to Tigers
Norwich, CT – Looking for a three-game sweep of the Connecticut Tigers, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers came up just short on Sunday, falling 2-1.
Starting pitcher Dace Kime struggled with his control but was able to limit damage, as he surrendered two runs over four innings. His four walks were a season high, as were his three wild pitches. But the righty out of Louisville was able to help his cause by picking-off two runners.
In the bottom of the fourth, Kime got a little help from catcher Martin Cervenka, who threw out a would-be base stealer. Kime took the loss and falls to 0-2 on the year. His ERA now sits at 2.87.
While Kime struggled on the mound, Matt Whitehouse and Breily Puerta did a fantastic job out of the bullpen. Whitehouse, a 19th round pick out of UC Irvine in this year’s draft, threw two perfect innings. The lefty has now thrown 23 1/3 innings on the year and allowed just one earned run, good for a 0.39 ERA. Puerta, a free agent signee in 2010 out of Maracay, Venezuela, allowed just two hits and didn’t walk a batter in his two innings.
The Mahoning Valley offense failed to get anything going Sunday following two straight double digit-hit nights. The one through three hitters did combine for four hits, but the rest of the lineup failed to record a single hit, going 0-for-18 with seven strikeouts to just one walk.
Leadoff hitter Joel Mejia finished the day 2-4 and Claudio Bautista added a single. The only offense of the day for the Scrappers came from James Roberts, who launched his first home run in the top of the seventh, a solo shot to left field.
Much like Mahoning Valley, the top third of the Connecticut lineup did their job, but the four through nine hitters struggled mightily. The offense was led by second baseman Dominic Ficociello, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI double. Austin Schotts and Curt Powell both added a hit and a scored a run, while Schotts provided an RBI. The rest of the lineup combined for just one hit in 13 at-bats, a single by first baseman Pat Leyland.
The Connecticut pitching staff threw a collective gem, allowing just four hits and one walk while notching nine strikeouts. Starter Joe Mantiply threw three strong innings but didn’t factor into the decision. Reliever Logan Ehlers (2-0, 0.84 ERA) earned the win by throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Zac Reininger, who has allowed just one earned run in his 18 1/3 innings of work, earned his sixth save of the 2013 campaign.
Following the loss, Mahoning Valley falls to 20-27, a full nine games out of first place. Connecticut improves to 20-27 as well, but sits just seven games out of first. The Scrappers will return home after an off-day Monday for a six game home stretch leading up to the All-Star break.
The stretch will lead off with the Lowell Spinners, the first place team in the Stedler division. Kenny Mathews will toe the rubber for Mahoning Valley on Tuesday. The seventh round selection out of Riverside City College sports an impressive 1.20 ERA in 15 innings this year. The starter for Lowell has yet to be determined. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm Tuesday at Eastwood Field.