Josh Bard and Chad Peshke each hit two-run blasts to lead the 6-3 victory.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- Two of the most improbable players on the team -- Josh Bard and Chad Peshke -- hit two-run home runs to help lift the Mahoning Valley Scrappers over the Utica Blue Sox 6-3 Monday at Cafaro Field.
The pair had just one homer and four RBIs combined coming into the game, but both found the range to the right field bullpen to propel the Scrappers (16-37).
"It feels all right," Bard said of his homer. "It's good to be down here getting a little rehab start. The timing is starting to come back and I feel pretty good.
"I got a good ball to hit and I tried to put a good swing on it. I pulled my quadriceps in [Class AA] Akron so it's been tough."
Early lead: With Utica up 1-0 in the first inning, Peshke singled to center. Bard's homer, his first extra-base hit of the season, made it 2-1 in a hurry.
"It's fun to get the enthusiasm of the guys down here. I feel happy to be down here," Bard said.
Bard's home run shot made the Mahoning Valley bullpen staff scatter like a flock of birds when teen-age boys first discover their grandfather's slingshot.
After the Blue Sox (19-33) went up 3-2, the Scrappers tied the score 3-all in the fifth.
Bryce Uegawachi was hit by a pitch to reach base and a textbook perfect hit-and-run single to right by Keith Lillash put runners on the corners.
A ground ball plated the third run.
Although he was not a part of the decision, Scrappers starter Victor Kleine went five innings and departed with a 3-3 stalemate.
"It's one of the better outings I've had," said Kleine, who had lost five straight.
"I felt a little more confident, I was throwing my pitches more for strikes."
His fastball was thrown for good location and the change-up seemed effective.
"It felt good," Kleine said. "A win would have been nice, but that's the way baseball goes."
In the seventh inning Dennis Malave singled for the second time, and Peshke came to the plate.
Just made it: His home run hit the top of the outfield wall in front of the bullpen and bounced in for a 5-3 lead.
"It's pretty hard to hit the top of a 2-foot wall," Peshke said.
"Good timing I guess."
Peshke wore a bruise on his left shoulder blade from when he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning.
"Is it a game of inches, or what?" Scrappers manager Dave Turgeon asked of Peshke's homer.
Likely, it's the shortest home run ever hit at Cafaro Field.
"From the right side, that's a pretty good job," Turgeon said of Peshke, who had four RBIs in 94 at-bats coming in. He's not a huge guy, but he's got some strength, some pop."
In the eighth inning the Scrappers manufactured a run. Miguel Quintana singled for the second time and collected his second stolen base.
Two walks later, Quintana scored on a wild pitch.
Good relief: Scott Sturkie, Mark Turnbow and Chris Cooper allowed just two hits and no walks in four innings of relief. Sturkie (2-0) got the win, while Cooper earned his eighth save.
The last 10 Blue Sox hitters went down in order.
"Obviously, our pitching kept us in the ball game tonight," Turgeon said.
"Kleine, another solid outing. He's not totally locked in, but from where he was two starts ago, he's night and day better."
Soto rf5020Malave cf5120
Rittenhouse 2b5010Peshke 3b3222
Frazier cf2010Bard dh3112
Stokes dh3011Morton 1b4010
Laidlaw lf4111Quintana rf4120
Louwsma 1b4110Kirby c4000
Tucker 3b4010Santini lf3000
Rundgren ss4020Uegawachi ss1100
Lovelady c3010Lillash 2b3010
DP--Utica 2, Mahoning Valley 2. LOB--Utica 8, Mahoning Valley 7. HR--Laidlaw, Peshke, Bard. 2B--Louwsma. SB--Quintana 2.
WP--Khoury. HBP--Peshke, Uegawachi by Asahina; Stokes by Kleine. Umpires--Home, Eric Eickert; bases, Steve McQuaig T--2:30. A--4,066.
MAHONING VALLEY 2, UTICA 1
Blue Sox: Jose Soto singled to center. Marc Rittenhouse reached on a fielder's choice, Soto out at second. Charlie Frazier walked, Rittenhouse to second. Jason Stokes singled to center, Rittenhouse scored, Frazier to second. Jacob Laidlaw grounded out, Frazier to third, Stokes to second. Chris Louwsma grounded out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.
Scrappers: Dennis Malave flew out. Chad Peshke singled to center. Josh Bard homered to right field bullpen, Peshke scored. Rickie Morton grounded out. Miguel Quintana singled to right. Quintana stole second. Brian Kirby grounded out. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
UTICA 3, MAHONING VALLEY 2
Blue Sox: Laidlaw homered to right. Louwsma doubled to left. Michael Tucker infield single, Louwsma to third. Rex Rundgren reached on a fielder's choice, Tucker out at second, Louwsma scored. Rundgren to second on a wild pitch. Greg Lovelady singled. Soto flew out. Rittenhouse grounded out. 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 3, UTICA 3
Scrappers: Bryce Uegawachi hit by a pitch. Keith Lillash singled on a hit-and-run play, Uegawachi to third. Malave grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, Uegawachi scored. Peshke hit by a pitch. Bard fouled out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 5, UTICA 3
Scrappers: Lillash flew out. Malave singled to center. Peshke homered to right field bullpen to score Malave. Bard walked. Morton hit into a double play. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 6, UTICA 3
Scrappers: Quintana singled. Brian Kirby struck out. Travis Santini struck out. Quintana stole second. Uegawachi walked. Lillash walked, Quintana to third, Uegawachi to second. Quintana scored on a wild pitch, Uegawachi to third, Lillash to second. Malave struck out. 1 run, 1 hit., 0 errors, 2 left.