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Scrappers drop a hard fought contest to Spikes, 4-3

Scrappers drop a hard fought contest to Spikes, 4-3
July 9, 2013
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State College, PA – Trying to right the wayward ship that has been July, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers dropped a hard-fought contest Monday night, falling to the State College Spikes 4-3.  The Mahoning Valley defense continued its woeful play, marking the fifth straight game the unit committed at least two errors.

Starting pitcher Caleb Hamrick, one of the few pitchers for Mahoning Valley that hasn’t thrown well this year, settled in nicely after allowing a first inning home run and gave the team a chance to win.

Ryan Battaglia belted his second home run of the year, a timely two-out blast in the top of the fourth that gave the Scrappers a momentary lead.  But in the bottom of the seventh, Mahoning Valley reliever Ben Hellerallowed two RBI singles that gave State College the lead for good.

Mahoning Valley tried mounting a comeback in the top half of the ninth, but came up short.  With one out, Romero and Ferrell hit back-to-back singles, but Robel Garcia then flied out and Juan Herrera struck out to end the game. 

Aside from the errors that are adding up quickly for the Scrappers, another defensive problem seems to be surfacing: allowing stolen bases.  Mahoning Valley allowed four more on Monday, bringing the total to 14 over their past five games.  Whether it is the pitching staff or the catchers that are to blame, allowing nearly three stolen bases per game is simply unacceptable.

Hamrick finished his day allowing just two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out four.  Both runs came on the first inning home run by Spikes first-baseman David Washington.  Hamrick lowered his 2013 ERA from 5.79 to 5.11, respectively.

Heller (0-2, 3.68), who has been dominant in his five appearances this season, struggled to miss bats Monday, surrendering five hits in just one inning, allowing two earned runs to blow his first save opportunity of the year.  Heller’s ERA sat at a dominant 1.42 prior to Monday’s outing, but his 1.58 WHIP showed signs of worse outings to come.

Aside from Battaglia’s home run in the fourth, the Scrappers offense failed to get anything going, despite grinding out 10 hits.  Nine of the 10 hits were singles, and the team hit just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, stranding nine runners in the process.

Leadoff hitter Cody Farrell led the way going 3-for-4, and clean-up hitter Nellie Rodriguez went 2-for-4.  Juan Romeroalso chipped in two hits.

For State College, Ben O’Shea (3-1, 4.24) threw well, hurling seven innings, allowing three runs and scattering seven hits while walking one and striking out three.  O’Shea has now lasted at least five innings in all four of his starts.  O’Shea has been particularly effective against Mahoning Valley in two starts, winning both games and surrendering just four runs in 13 innings, good for a 2.77 ERA.  In his other two starts, the lefty has a 6.10 ERA.

Right-hander Kyle Webb earned his first save of the year, throwing a scoreless ninth, despite allowing the two hitters to reach base. 

The Spikes offense also struggled to push runs across despite having 10 hits.  Catcher Alex De Leon had three hits, while shortstop Cesar Valera added two hits, one of which was a double, and a run scored.  He also stole a base.  Leadoff man Jimmy Bosco, who hit for the cycle earlier this season against the Scrappers, added a hit and an RBI. 

With the loss, Mahoning Valley falls to 7-15 while State College moves into a tie for second place with a mark of 13-8.  The Scrappers and Spikes will meet again Tuesday at Medlar Field for the third and final game of the series.  Mahoning Valley will send Rob Whitenack (1-2, 3.38) to the hill, who was hit hard in the last start.

Against first-place Williamsport, Whitenack allowed four earned runs on 10 hits through four innings.  State College will throw Willy Paulino, who will be making his first start of the 2013 campaign.  In 11 1/3 innings of relief work, Paulino has accumulated a 1.59 ERA to go along with a 0.97 WHIP.  First pitch is set for 7:05 pm.

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