Muckdogs finish of sweep of Scrappers with 6-2 victory
NILES - The days are getting shorter, the nights longer, the air crisper and cooler. You wouldn’t be wrong if you mistook it for football season. But before the men of autumn claim center stage for themselves, the boys of summer have a few finishing touches to put on their respective 2012 campaigns.
For the Scrappers, that means finishing strong what has been a bit of a disappointing stretch for the team as a whole. After a decent June that saw the Scrappers play better than .500 baseball at 15-13, August ushered in a less-than-stellar 8-18 run. That run included a stretch where they lost six straight, and another where they dropped seven of eight.
But so goes minor league baseball, where as much as the local fans may not like it, player development and scouting trump records and playoffs. Even still, a few wins to close out the season couldn’t hurt the confidence of young ballplayers.
If the Scrappers are to pick up any more wins, it will have to wait until Thursday, as on Wednesday the Muckdogs finished what they started in the doubleheader sweep Tuesday with a 5-2 victory.
Making what was probably his final start of the season was Jacob Lee. Lee has had what can safely be termed a fantastic season. Entering his final outing, he carried a 2.23 ERA in 40 innings. But more impressive has been his strikeouts, of which he had 45 while only walking 11 batters.
His last home start wasn’t his best start, however. In three innings he allowed six hits and five runs, and only struck out a pair of Muckdogs en route to being saddled with his second loss of the year.
“It was definitely my worst start of the summer,” commented Lee. “It’s tough leaving with that being my last start in Mahoning Valley. But it will give me something to work on for the rest of the week, and hopefully I’ll have a better one next time out.”
No one can blame him for having a rough start after the amount of innings he’s pitched. Before he was drafted, Lee had already hurled 97 innings as the staff ace for his alma mater Arkansas State. Then he added to that with 43 innings for the Scrapper. That’s a lot of innings for a young arm. Throw in a night where the weather was somewhere in the mid-50’s and that makes it brutally tough.
“I’ve got some aches here and there, but I feel alright,” he said of his 140-inning arm. “My arm feels good still. I’ve got instructional league coming up soon so we’ll see how it feels then.”
As for the Scrapper offense, well, the chilly weather didn’t provide any sparks to help them warm up the bats. They only had four hits on the night, two from none other than the ultra-consistent Joey Wendle. Both of his hits came early, as did the other two Scrapper hits. In fact, they all came before the fifth inning. The only base runner they had in the final five innings came by way of an error. And that runner was promptly wiped out by a double play.
The only time the Scrappers were able to make something happen was in the third. Erik Gonzales reached to start the inning on an error, and Wendle collected his second hit with two down to put a pair on. Then with the bases jammed after Dorssys Paulino walked, Joe Sever ripped a two-RBI single to make it a 5-2 game. That wouldn’t be near enough to match the six that Batavia would eventually get.
“We’re struggling right now, we’re floundering a little bit,” said Joey Wendle of the offense. “But we’re going to keep doing our thing, keep coming out to the ballpark every night and working hard.”
He insists though that they haven’t written off the season, with only a few games remaining and playoffs hopes dead.
“I think because we’re younger we’re still trying to prove ourselves,” he said. “Everybody still wants to play their best they possibly can individually, and as a team collectively. We still want to come in here and win every ballgame. There’s not a letdown in the clubhouse. Everybody’s frustrated and upset that we’re not hitting, so we’re still going to keep working hard.”
Hopefully Thursday can bring some better fortune, as the pesky Muckdogs leave town while the Scrappers welcome in the Auburn Doubledays for their last home series of the year.