It wasn’t that long ago that Luis Dejesus was throwing out the first pitch to christen the 2012 Scrappers home slate. Now, exactly 72 days later, it was Robbie Aviles throwing out the first pitch to end it. While 2012 hasn’t exactly been the championship year the fans might have hoped, it supplied plenty to smile about.
That first game set the stage for an exciting year of baseball with a walk off win. The hero that night was Juan Romero, who worked a walk with the bases juiced to force home Joey Wendle.
It’s no surprise that Wendle was the man that scored the winning run that day. Wendle has been the clear MVP for the Scrappers in ’12, putting up a stellar slash line of .325/.370/.474. He is the team leader in all three categories among guys that have at least 80 at-bats. He added to his season totals Saturday, going 2-5 with and RBI.
The All-Star Wendle hasn’t been the only one to dazzle Eastwood Field crowds this year. They also got the first look at Indians first-rounder Tyler Naquin. Naquin started out hot and later cooled before an injury sucked a month from his season. But after missing every game since his lower back issues flared up on August 2nd, Naquin returned to the Scrapper lineup Saturday to sing his swan song, going 0-2 with a walk in his first action back.
“It was great,” said Naquin. “The back feels better, there’s no pain, so that’s good. I’m not worried about the numbers right now, I’m just worried about getting back on the field and trying to get back in the swing of things and get in a groove. But it feels great, I couldn’t be happier.”
For Naquin, this is the first time he’s to deal with sitting out for an extended period of time due to injury.
“This is first time I’ve had to sit out like this. Back in college I had the same thing, it was just a lot worse this time. It’s frustrating, but this is my job, and if you look like at it like an office job, what they say goes as far as being injured and what their plan is for you. So I’m on board with all that, whatever they say.”
Scrapper faithful also saw some premier pitching from a few of their starters, namely Jacob Lee and Luis Dejesus. They provided the stopping power for the rotation, earning ERA’s of 3.12 and 1.93, respectively. Both were named NYPL All-Stars.
But Saturday, the crowd got another top-pick who has struggled with injuries, Robbie Aviles. Aviles has had an injury riddled first couple years as a professional, first being sidelined with after having to get Tommy John surgery, and thisyear ending up on the shelf with some elbow issues.
Aviles’ 2012 probably hasn’t gone exactly how he’d have hoped, as entering Saturday’s contest he carried an ERA of 5.61. But in what was likely his final appearance of the season, and his first start since August 4th, Aviles gave Indians fans a gleam of hope. He pitched five solid innings of baseball allowing only a run in the first on a sacrifice fly. Then he settled in, pitching four innings of solid shutout baseball.
“It felt great starting again, especially at home.” said a smiling Aviles. “I had to shake some rust off in the beginning, but it was good.”
For Aviles, that was the kind start he can feel good about heading into the offseason.
“That’s what I told myself before the game, I don’t want to have a sour taste going into the offseason. But I felt effective; I had the feel of all three pitches for the first time in a while. So definitely a confidence builder going into the offseason.”
Coupled with his pitching, Aviles benefited from a few early Scrapper runs. They picked up a run in each of the first two innings, first on a Dorssys Paulino RBI single, and then on a wild pitch that allowed Eric Haase to score to make it 2-1.
After both teams exchanged runs in seventh, Auburn made sure they would stay in command of the playoff race and end the Scrappers home season on a sour note. And it was especially sour. In the eighth they picked up three runs, and six morei n a nightmarish top of the ninth. How nightmarish was it? Evan Frazar had to toe the rubber because three pitchers, Luis Encarnacion, James Stokes, and Jack Wagoner had already pitched. Frazar was able to get the one out he needed to end the inning, but not before allowing an inherited runner to score after a wild pitch.
And with that, the 2012 Scrapper home season was finished. It was James Stokes taking the loss in the final game, with Doubleday Travis Henke getting the win. Now, the Scrappers will take their show on the road, starting their final trip of the season tomorrow night in Jamestown.