Sisco dominates but settles for no-decision in Scrappers' loss
For a while, it seemed like an otherwise mundane Friday night was going to be a special night. Maybe even a perfect night. The weather was near perfect; mid-seventies, clear with a nice breeze. The atmosphere was near perfect, helped by a small but vibrant Eastwood Field crowd. And the game was…near perfect, at least for one man.
Jake Sisco was that man. He flirted with the near impossible, making it halfway to history. It may have been an outing he needed, too. His last five starts had left a lot to be desired. In those starts, he allowed 22 runs in just 25 innings. But tonight, he looked like he was pitching with a newfound confidence.
He breezed through the first inning; three groundball outs, six pitches. That set the tone. Second inning, three more outs; a strikeout, lazy fly to center, and a hot shot up the middle that Sisco snared. Same story in the third and fourth; six batters, six outs. And the fifth; a groundout and two fly outs. Maybe it was early, but he was at the least generating a buzz.
“I really didn’t feel like I had my secondary stuff tonight,” said Sisco. “I was just trying to locate my fastball, and [Richard] Stock did a good job behind the plate. I was moving the ball in and out, easily the best I’d done all year. As the game went on, I kinda got a better feel for it.”
The only thing Sisco was missing was run support. But maybe the same could be said of his counterpart, Tyler Melling. Melling wasn’t perfect; he allowed a leadoff single to Aaron Siliga. But a prompt twin killing kept him facing only the minimum, as did a groundout for out number three. After that he stepped to the same tune as Sisco, going three-up-three-down in the second, third, and fourth. And then in the fifth, he mimicked his first; Valerio poked a hit up the middle, but was retired on 6-4-3 double play. He, like Sisco, had faced the minimum through five.
“It’s better, I don’t like sitting in the dugout and waiting on stuff to happen,” said Sisco of the speedy pitcher’s duel. “If we get a few runs bang-bang then that’s always good. But when I feel that good, and I feel real well, I want to get back out there and keep shutting them down.”
Something had to give in the unstoppable object vs. unbreakable wall affair. And in the sixth, it finally did. Sisco faced third baseman Jacob Wilson to lead off the bottom third of the order for the second time of the night. Wilson started the at-bat by violating one of baseball’s unwritten rules: he attempted a bunt to break up a no-hitter. That ball trickled foul. But his next swing was full and it was big, as he connected on a ball that sailed over the left-field fence, breaking up the no-hitter and the shutout along the way.
“I just made a mistake on a 2-2 count,” said Sisco. “It happens.”
Then in the bottom of the inning, the other half of the wall caved in. The Scrappers led off their end with a single from Juan Romero. Erik Gonzalez chased him to second after he reached on an error following his sac-bunt attempt. It was the first chance the Scrappers had to do some damage, and a crucial one to be sure based on the pitching to that point. Robel Garcia found himself at the plate, looking to sacrifice the runners forward. He failed on his first attempt, and the play changed. Instead of a sacrifice, Manager Ted Kubiak, put on a hit-and-run. Garcia missed it, instead fouling off another bunt attempt.
“They need to learn that in certain situations it gets a little tougher and they need to do some things,” said Kubiak afterwards. “He missed a hit-and-run sign. They’ve been told before, but they don’t remember.”
Despite the mistake, Garcia did make a productive out, as he dribbled one between the mound and first that allowed the runners to move up anyway. Then Aaron Siliga cashed in, drilling a ball to deep right field that checked up against the wall, allowing him to advance all the way to third and clear the bases. With that, the Scrappers stole back the lead at 2-1.
Sisco came back out in the seventh, and though there were no errors, a run was able to come around partly because of some strange defensive decisions. Danny Stienstra led off the frame with a single. The next batter bounced a slow roller to short that was too slow for a double play chance, but hard enough to at least have a chance at the lead runner. Instead of taking what looked like an easy play at second, Garcia chose to take the out at first, giving them a runner on second with one-out. Another single moved him to third, and a passed ball moved the runner from first to second. Jacob Wilson then lifted a fly ball to left fielder Juan Romero. It was fairly deep, but he was able to get behind the ball and deliver a strong throw. Strangely, though, the throw came to third, not home, allowing the run to score uncontested. That run allowed Batavia to tie the game.
Sisco’s night was finished after seven, as he allowed two earned runs on four hits. Scott People’s replaced him and, as Sisco had done two innings prior, allowed a leadoff solo home run. It was delivered by Matthew Young, and gave the Muckdogs a seemingly insurmountable 3-2 lead.
The Scrappers did make noise in both of the last two frames. In the eighth, Erik Gonzalez singled with one out and moved to second after a wild pitch. Two strikeouts to Garcia and Siliga ended that threat, however. It was much the same in the ninth. Joey Wendle was hit by a pitch with one out, but again two Scrappers went down on strikes, those two being Charlie Valerio and Joe Sever, to end the contest.
Clearly there was some frustration, as after Valerio went down swinging on a pitch around his eyes, he had a brief but heated conversation with home plate umpire Mike Wisemann that led to his ejection.
“That was uncharacteristic of him,” said Kubiak. “I don’t know what that’s all about. I know he’s frustrated and he’s trying hard, and he wants to hit, but he’s going to learn a lesson from that."
Taking the loss in the contest was Peoples, while Muckdog reliever Christopher Thomas picked up the win. The Scrappers will look to earn a split tomorrow, as they host Batavia in the second of two at 7:05.