Naquin, Scrappers impress in home debut
NILES - After a long winter and, for many guys, an extended stay in Arizona, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers finally got to experience their own opening day majesty as they won an exciting extra inning affair 2-1 over the Jamestown Jammers.
Toeing the rubber for the Scrappers was Luis Dejesus, recently assigned to Mahoning Valley after a short stint in Lake County. Opposing Dejesus for the Jammers was right handed pitcher Mason Hope. Both were making their first starts on the young season.
Early on, Dejesus did a fine job keeping the opposing batters in check. He had good command of his fastball and used his off-speed pitches to keep Jammer hitters out in front. He allowed a baserunner in the first, but pitched a perfect second inning that included a strikeout to keep the Jammers off the board.
Dejesus was matched effectively by his counterpart Mason Hope, as in the first inning he was able to strand Tyler Naquin at second base following his first professional hit and stolen base. Hope issued a leadoff walk to Joseph Wendle in the second, but retired the next three Scrappers in order to emerge unscathed.
Dejesus ran into a little bit of trouble in the third when a one out bunt single, subsequent stolen base, and two out walk put runners at the corners. However, he was able to benefit from a little nifty defense from third baseman Evan Frazar when he was able to make a barehanded scoop and strong throw on a slow tapper up the line.
The Scrappers were again turned away in the third after stranding Tyler Naquin on second base following his two-out double, but they were able to draw first blood in the fourth when Joseph Wendle's single to right-center drove in Charlie Valerio who had doubled down the first base line to lead off the inning. Unfortunately, the Scrappers were unable to do anymore damage, and were forced to settle for just the one run.
In the fourth inning, Scrappers fans got their first look at the much talked about arm of Tyler Naquin, when with one out and a runner on second, Jammer batsman Austin Nola lifted a fly ball to deep centerfield. Naquin made the out and delivered a Shin-Soo Choo-esque on the fly strike to third base that forced the baserunner to hold at second.
Dejesus pitched a clean fifth inning to put himself in line to pick up an early season victory. He finished the day allowing three hits and striking out three while issuing one walk in his five innings of work. In their half of the fifth, the Scrappers failed to plate a run despite Tyler Naquin picking up his third hit of the night.
Fourteenth round draft pick Scott Peoples relieved Dejesus in the sixth inning. A one-out single and walk put him in a bit of trouble, but he worked his way out to preserve the one run lead.
First baseman Erik Gonzalez hit a two out ground-rule double in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Scrappers were unable to capitalize when Evan Frazor grounded out harmlessly to short.
Peoples came out for a second inning of relief, but this time wasn’t able to finagle his way out of trouble. A leadoff double from Jose Behar put Peoples in immediate danger, and a one-out Juancito Martinez RBI-single evened up the score at 1-1.
The bottom of the seventh looked promising for the home team when Scrapper backstop Mitch Nillson was able to draw a one-out walk. Jairo Kelly followed with a single to put a pair of Scrappers on the basepaths with only one out. The Scrappers were unable to capitalize, however and the game remained tied heading into the eighth inning.
Both teams missed some late scoring opportunities, as the game remained tied heading into extra innings. Enosil Tejada came into the game in the top of the eleventh to try and keep the game knotted and give his offense a chance to score the winning run in the bottom of the inning. A pair of one out singles gave the Jammers a prime opportunity to break the tie, but Tejada was able to register a strikeout and fly out to keep the game square.
In the bottom of the eleventh, the Scrappers put the winning run on base when Charlie Valerio singled to center field. A Joseph Wendle single forced Jammer pitcher Bryan Berglund to intentionally load the bases in an attempt to force out the potential tying run at home. The decision paid off initially when Evan Frazar bounced a weak ground ball to second base that led to a force out at home.
Juan Romero stepped to the plate in a critical moment, the bases loaded with only one out. In his four previous at bats Romero had struck out. Looking to drive in the go-ahead run, Berglund failed to deliver Romero a strike as a four-pitch walk forced the winning run in and gave the Scrappers a dramatic 2-1 victory.
Earning the victory was Enosil Tejada, while Bryan Berglund took the loss. Luis Dejesus was forced to settle with a no decision despite a strong outing. First round pick Tyler Naquin had a solid first night, going 3-for-4 with a double and stolen base.
The Scrappers will finish up their quick two game set against the Jammers on Thursday night at 7:05.