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Scrappers walk-off twice, sweep Wednesday's doubleheader

Despite lack of offense, Mahoning Valley wins twice

Scrappers walk-off twice, sweep Wednesday's doubleheader
Juan Herrera (Photo: Lianna Holub)
July 25, 2013
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NILES, OH- After walking off in game one of Wednesday night's doubleheader, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers duplicated the walk-off feat in game two and swept the twin-set with the State College Spikes by the score of 1-0.

In game two it was thanks to a sacrifice fly from designated hitter Juan Herrera in the bottom of the eighth inning that gave the Scrappers their second consecutive walk-off win.

The victory earned the Scrappers their third straight series win, the first time that feat has been accomplished in Niles since 2011.

In total, the Scrappers and Spikes played 16 innings of baseball on Wednesday and combined for a lowly total of four runs and 17 hits -- 13 coming from the bats of the Scrappers.

Scoreless through seven and a half innings, the story from both sides came on the mound.

In the tremendous pitching duel, Spikes starter Nick Petree and his successor, Andrew Pierce, had the Scrappers waving and weeping all night long.

In three innings, Petree allowed just one hit while striking out five and walking one. That single blemish in the hit column came on a blazing comebacker to the mound that glanced off Petree, allowed Bautista to run through first without a throw, and put a sole blemish on his final line.

As for Pierce, the righty was filthy for the majority of the ballgame, pitching 4.1 innings and striking out seven batters while walking only one.

The movement on his pitches- according to the members of the Mahoning Valley press box community- was as good as any in the New York-Penn League. The Scrappers hitters were completely lost until the eighth inning when Pierce began to lose his control.

That eighth inning created problems for Pierce, as he allowed a single and a walk to the first two Scrappers in the inning, the latter scoring the game's lone run. As it was his batter who scored, and despite his nasty stuff, Pierce picked up his second loss of the season on the evening.

While the Pierce/Petree duo was unable to pitch their squad to victory, they were amazing overall, combining for 12 strikeouts, two walks, and five hits in 7.1 innings.

Pierce and Petree were brilliant, but the combination of Luis Lugo and Manuel Carmona was just a bit too much for the Spikes to handle.

In 5.2 innings of dominance, Lugo allowed just two hits and no runs while walking two. In an aberration from the norm from Lugo, the fly-ball pitcher was getting swings and misses from the Spikes, who struck out six times against the big lefty.

Lugo's surprisingly high strikeout percentage was the result of some outstanding "stuff", including a brilliant curveball that proved hitters clueless. In quite a few instances, Lugo's curveball was so incredible that even the umpire was confused and missed a few blatant strike three tosses.

As has been the theme for Lugo, the Scrappers were unable to plate a single run during his outing and the pitcher garnered yet another no decision for Mahoning Valley.

Meanwhile, Carmona came in to relieve Lugo with two outs in the top of the sixth inning and had his best performance of the entire season.

In 2.1 innings, Carmona struck out five batters and walked five more, while giving up no hits and no runs. Multiple times, Carmona quickly ran himself into difficult situations, but removed himself just as fast thanks to his unhittable fastball.

For the Lugo/Carmona pair, the evening rendered eight innings of work, two hits, no runs, six walks, 11 strikeouts, and a win for the crafty reliever.

In game one, after missing multiple scoring opportunities for seven plus innings, the Scrappers were gifted a 2-1 victory over the Spikes.

In New York-Penn League play, doubleheaders are played back-to-back and consist of two seven inning games. The Scrappers and Spikes were knotted up at one after seven innings in the first contest, forcing them into "extra innings" from Eastwood Field.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning and one out, Spikes reliever Victor DeLeon walked Paul Hendrix, bringing in the winning run and giving the Scrappers their second walk-off walk of the season.

Overall, it was a bit of a frustrating game for both sides, but even more so for the home team.

Twice, the Scrappers had a runner on third base with less than two outs and twice the situation rendered them scoreless.

With the bases loaded and one out in the third inning, Claudio Bautista struck out swinging and was followed by Herrera who bounced back to the pitcher, sending the Scrappers packing with nothing to show for their efforts.

After the bases-loaded debacle in the third, Nellie Rodriguez started the bottom of the fourth with a double down the left-field line and set up the Scrappers with a man in scoring position with no outs. Unlike Bautista and Herrera, James Roberts came through in the clutch and hit a single up the middle. This time it was the baserunner who cost the Scrappers a run.

The burly 6'2, 250 pound masher, Rodriguez, barreled his way around third base on the liner, but was easily thrown out at home by Spikes center fielder Steven Ramos.

Luckily enough, Herrera made a terrific play of his own at shortstop to throw out a runner at home which saved the Scrappers from a 1-0 deficit.

In the fifth inning, a base knock by Spikes right fielder Jimmy Bosco and Martin Cervenka's first round-tripper of the season for the Scrappers gave each team a run, but that 1-1 score would remain until the "walk"-off in the eighth.

Before being replaced, Spikes starter Jimmy Reed put together quite a night on the mound. Outside of the Cervenka home run, Reed allowed six hits and no runs in six innings. He also walked one and struck out three. Unfortunately, as previously stated, it was all for naught.

The Scrappers put together a good night themselves from the rubber.

The combined efforts of Kenny Matthews, Alexis Paredes, and Harold Guerrero held the Spikes to just two hits -- both allowed by Paredes -- and one run, while striking out eight and walking two.

With the sweep of the double-dip against the Spikes, the Scrappers are now 14-23 on the year and have won six of their last eight contests.

The Scrappers will finish the series with the Spikes tomorrow night and try to secure their first sweep of the season.

Mahoning Valley starter Cole Sulser (1-1, 2.21) is set to face off against Spikes starter Juan Bautista (1-2, 3.42).

First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. from Eastwood Field.

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