Scrappers knock off Tigers on road, 6-3
Norwich, CT – For the second consecutive night, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers scored first and were able to withstand a push by the Connecticut Tigers, ultimately hanging on for a 6-3 victory.
Matt Whitehouse, who has been nothing short of brilliant in 2013, pitched six sound innings to earn his fourth victory of the year. The 19th round pick displayed his superb control Saturday night, again walking zero. On the season, Whitehouse has now thrown 27 1/3 innings and only walked two batters. That control, along with an opponents’ batting average of .169, has led Whitehouse to an ERA of 0.99.
Ben Heller earned his second save of the year, throwing three scoreless innings en route to lowering his 2013 ERA to 1.17.
The Mahoning Valley offense, which has steadily been climbing the league leaderboard in batting average, pushed across six runs on 10 hits. The Scrappers entered Saturday’s contest with a .248 batting average, good for fourth best in the league.
Much like Friday’s game, the offensive performance was a team effort, with eight batters recording at least one hit. The Scrappers once again recorded double-digit hits and recorded five hits with runners in scoring position.
Juan Romero got things started in the top half of the second inning, scorching a two-run line-drive home run to left field, his fourth of the season.
In the top of the third, Nellie Rodriguez knocked home Claudio Bautista on a line-drive single to center field. Later in the inning, Josh McAdams scored James Roberts when he hit into a double play, making it a 4-0 ballgame.
Connecticut clawed back, however, scoring three runs combined in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Ben Verlander scored on a wild pitch by Whitehouse, cutting the lead to three.
In the bottom half of the sixth, Tyler Gibson led off the inning by reaching on an error shortstop Paul Hendrix. Curt Powell than made the Scrappers pay, hitting his first home run of the year, cutting the deficit to one.
The Scrappers responded, though, scoring a run apiece in the seventh and eighth innings, securing the victory.
Leading the way offensively for Mahoning Valley was Romero, who finished 1-3 with a run scored and two RBI’s. Sicnarf Loopstok went 2-4 with a double and an RBI, while third-baseman James Roberts also added two hits. Nellie Rodriguez tacked-on his 30th RBI of the campaign, good for fourth in the league. Claudio Bautista notched his 12th double of the year, which puts him in a tie for ninth in the league.
Connecticut scattered a few hits, but for the second consecutive night failed to hit with runners in scoring position. The Tigers finished 0-7 in that category, bringing their series total to 2-18. Powell led the way offensively with the home run, finishing 2-4 with two RBI’s and a run scored. Kasey Coffman also added two hits.
The victory brings Mahoning Valley to 20-25 on the year and 8-2 over their last 10. Gaining ground in the super-competitive Pinckney division has been difficult, however, with the top two teams, Jamestown and State College, both playing extremely well. The Scrappers now sit eight games out of first place. With the loss, Connecticut falls to 19-27 and has lost three in a row. They are now 7.5 games back of first-place Powell.
Mahoning Valley will look for the three-game sweep Sunday, with 2013 third-round pick Dace Kime taking the hill. The righty out of Louisville has been tough in 2013, racking up a 2.31 ERA while gradually stretching out the length of his starts. For Connecticut, Joe Mantiply will square off with Kime. The 6’5 left-hander has been great thus far, earning a 1.31 ERA through his 20 2/3 innings of work. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 pm at Dodd Stadium.