Bat comes through as Scrappers win 6-5
NILES - When you’re mired in a slump, the bat can feel like a lead pipe in big situations.
The Scrapper offense must have been collectively swinging what felt like a thirty pound lead pipe, because the slump has been a team-wide phenomena for the offense, an offense that hasn’t been able to come through with the big hits. They must have exchanged the lead for an old fashioned piece of lumber Thursday, though, as the big hits finally came multiple times, and helped give the Scrappers a big come-from-behind 6-5 win against the State College Spikes.
It was déjà vu for the two teams, who just saw each other over the weekend in State College for a three game set, and saw the same pitching matchup on Saturday, Geoff Davenport vs. Jason Creasy, as they saw in the opener in State College. The Scrappers were hoping to flip the script, though, as they were 9-2 losers on Saturday, and were swept in the series.
It was clear that the batters benefited from the recent experience early on. The Scrapper batsmen wasted no time putting a run on the board after a Charlie Velario double plated Jairo Kelly in the first inning.
They got right back to work in the second, when an Aaron Siliga walked to start the frame. Jeremy Lucas put together a quality at bat, dropping a ball into shallow left to put runners at the corners. With two outs, Jairo Kelly was first pitch swinging, and drove a ball into the Scrapper bullpen to clear the bases and give the Scrappers an early 4-0 advantage.
State College was not going to go quietly in the night, however. They responded with a big inning of their own, plating four on six hits in the third. Davenport had been good enough up to that point, only allowing one hit in the first two innings, but didn’t benefit from his defense, as Lucas allowed a ball to get through him at catcher to bring home a run from third.
Davenport was still able to escape with a tie-game, but wasn’t given much of a breather by his offense. They allowed State College starter Jason Creasy to get back in the dugout after throwing only six pitches, and sent Davenport right back into the fire. Davenport, though, was gutsy, registering a quick eight pitch inning of his own to get himself off the bump in the fourth.
Davenport was able to finish off his night throwing an uneventful fifth and keeping the game square at five. Despite the offense running Creasy in the bottom of the frame, they couldn’t do any damage, and it became a battle of the bullpens.
Unfortunately for the Scrappers, the battle was seemingly lost immediately, when Scott Peoples relieved Davenport and, after retiring his first batter via a strikeout, surrendered a walk to Walker Gourley. Peoples threw over to first to keep the lead honest, but the second throw was errant, and put the go-ahead run on second base. A single by Spikes Dave Valesente to center field allowed the run to score uncontested after Naquin couldn’t get a grip on the ball in center.
The Scrappers got nothing in the sixth, and People’s found himself right back in hot water in the seventh. With one out after a leadoff walk, Peoples left one over the plate that batter Barrett Barnes hit deep to left field. Left fielder Hunter Jones made what may have proved to be the play of the night, making an extraordinary diving grab in front of the wall to keep the runner harmlessly at first.
An uneventful inning and a half then put the Scrappers in a familiar position, losing with their at bats dwindling. They wouldn’t be denied this night, though. Joe Sever and Aaron Siliga were able to draw walks to start the inning, giving the offense three outs to get the go ahead run home from third. Jeremy Lucas delivered with a single to left field to give him his first professional RBI, and tie the game.
“We’ve all been struggling at the plate a little bit,” said Lucas, who finished with a big night, going 4-for-4 with a double. “We’ve all been working hard to get it right, and luckily the bats came through tonight.”
With the game tied and runners at the corners, Manager Ted Kubiak made an interesting switch, having left-hander Joeseph Wendle step in for switch-hitter Robel Garcia against left-hander Thomas Harlan. Wendle delivered with a sacrifice fly to give the Scrappers the lead.
“Wendle did a good job coming into that situation, lefty-lefty, and getting a big hit,” remarked Kubiak. “It was a teaching moment, that’s all it was.”
The lead would prove to be enough, as Enosil Tejada pitched an uneventful second inning in relief to secure the win. It was a big win for the Scrappers, who’ve had trouble in key moments with games in the balance. Kubiak preached consistentsy after the game.
“I’m standing there in the dugout tonight and I’m just thinking ‘You know what? We just have to play consistent. In order to be better we just need to be consistent.’ There’s no tricks. That’s it.”
Picking up the win in the game was Tejada, while Harlan took the loss. The Scrappers will look to appease Kubiak with another solid outing on Friday as they continue the three game set against State College at 7:05.