Scrappers take first of two against Spikes
NILES - Eastwood Field proved to be a friendly place for the Scrappers Tuesday night, as they beat the State College Spikes 7-4. They hope the win will help them forget about a woeful road trip where they went just 2-4.
Lefty Ryan Merrit took the hill, looking to improve on his last two rocky outings. In those starts he turned only a total of 8.1 innings giving up six runs on 14 hits. Merrit definitely turned his luck aroundTuesday. He had easily his best outing of the year, tossing seven innings of one-run baseball, on only four hits with five strikeouts. His only blemish came in the sixth, when Spike Barrett Barnes smacked a two-out solo homerun into the State College bullpen.
Merrit’s solid outing was coupled with some early offense that gave the Scrappers the early lead. In the bottom of the first, Jairo Kelly singled and landed on second after a botched pickoff attempt. Tyler Naquin then promptly delivered with a single up the middle to score Kelly and snatch an early 1-0 lead.
Both starters then held the offenses in check until the fifth, when the Scrappers tacked on another run by way of a Charlie Valerio big fly to center. The shot, Valerio’s third on the year, gave the Scrappers a 2-0 lead. They added a third run in the sixth, when after Naquin walked with two outs, Wendle drove a ball to the gap for an RBI double.
The runs proved to be big run for Merrit, as he left after seven with the 3-1 lead intact, and in line for the victory.
“I felt good,” commented Merrit after his longest outing of the season. “I came in the game throwing strikes, and the defense helped me out a lot. I’m hoping I can just keep with my command and be consistent throughout the rest of the year.”
“Merrit pitched a great game,” said Manager Ted Kubiak. “He stayed competitive, he stayed with his fastball more, and just threw strikes today. He did a great job.”
Unfortunately, he would have to settle for a no decision as the Spikes picked up a pair of runs in a wild top of the eighth. James Stokes entered, and promptly loaded the bases. With the bases loaded, the Scrappers got a strange gift on a groundball as first base umpire James Pattison ruled that the runner coming into second interfered with Jairo Kelly. The interference call gave the Scrappers a double play, and forced the runners at second and third to hold there. Spike Manager Dave Turgeon vehemently disagreed with the call, and was ejected after a long argument.
After the ejection, Jacob Lee entered to try and strand the runners at second and third. Instead, though, Lee allowed a two-out, two RBI single by Jordan Carvajal to tie the game at three.
As the Scrapper offense had done earlier, they responded following the runs. Robel Garcia led off the bottom half with a single, and Jairo Kelly laid down a bunt that forced a throwing error to score Garcia. Then, with runners at the corners, Joseph Wendle ripped a single into left field to score a second run. Finally, with two outs, Aaron Siliga singled to plate Tyler Naquin and Wendle, and bring the tally to 7-3.
“That’s part of what they’re doing here, they don’t give up. The at bats tonight were pretty good,” said Kubiak. “Maybe they swung at a few pitches out of the zone, but for the most part I thought they handled them well.”
The Scrappers brought in Cody Penny in the ninth to nail down the victory, and bring themselves back over .500 at 15-14. Jacob Lee picked up his third win of the year. He was also charged with a blown save. Spike reliever Jordan Cooper took the loss. The Scrappers will look to take the second and final game of this brief two game homestand tonight at 7:05.