Pitcher Nick Moran retired the first 15 batters he faced, but Utica rallied for a 4-3 win.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- It's not too much to ask the Mahoning Valley Scrappers to take a lead and hold it.
It is a lot to ask any baseball team to twice take leads and make them stand up, though.
And, it's nearly impossible to require a struggling squad to seize the lead a third time.
That was the daunting assignment Tuesday and the Scrappers failed in dropping a 4-3 New York-Penn League game to the Utica Blue Sox at Cafaro Field.
They had no one to blame but themselves.
"We pitched well," said Scrappers manager Dave Turgeon. "We made a couple of mistakes and they popped them."
Finally cracked: After Nick Moran retired the first 15 hitters in order, the lean right-hander finally gave up a hit in the sixth inning of a scoreless game.
Mahoning Valley responded to the threat by twice scoring in the bottom of the sixth.
With one away Chad Peshke singled and stole second. One out later Rickie Morton tripled home Peshke with the first run of the game. It appeared the Utica center-fielder lost Morton's fly ball in the lights.
Miguel Quintana followed with a double to left to score Morton and Moran seemed to have all the lead he needed to cruise to the win.
Digging in: The measure of a baseball team quite often is how well it plays defense after taking a lead in the prior half inning.
Moran hit the first batter he faced and two outs later a single put runners on first and second.
Chris Louwsma tripled to right-center to tie the game at 2-2 and chase Moran.
"I think I left him in there one hitter too long," Turgeon said of Moran. "He was right around his pitch limit.
"But, I wanted to give him a shot of having no runs in seven innings."
Moran went 62/3 innings and yielded three hits and struck out five.
Showing how they have matured as a team throughout the year, the Scrappers accepted the challenge and scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to lead 3-2.
With two away Maximo Made singled and stole second. Made scored on Dennis Malave's infield hit. Malave also doubled in the third.
"I thought we were sitting pretty good right there," Turgeon said of the 3-2 lead. "They came back with a two-spot right after. That's pretty good baseball."
Late rallies: Mahoning Valley (16-38) scored all three of its runs with two outs. Two Utica (20-33) players scored after being walked and another came in after he was hit by a pitch.
The top of the eighth inning was when the Scrappers showed they couldn't stand success.
With one out a pair of Blue Sox players were issued walks.
One out later Phillip Hartig tripled to nearly the same spot Louwsma hit the ball an inning earlier and Utica led 4-3.
With two outs in the ninth Mahoning Valley pinch hitter Jonathan Van Every singled to center but he was stranded there when another pinch hitter grounded out to end the game.
Soto cf4010Malave cf 4021
Clute 2b3100Peshke 3b4110
Hicks rf2200Bard dh4000
Stokes dh4000Morton 1b4111
Hartig 1b4012Quintana rf3011
Laidlaw lf 4110Kirby lf3000
Louwsma 3b 4012Myers c3010
Lynam c3000Van Every ph1010
Phelps ss4000Uegawachi ss3000
E--Clute, Uegawachi. LOB--Utica 5, Mahoning Valley 5. 2B--Malave, Qiintana. 3B--Hartig, Louwsma, Morton. SB--Peshke, Made. CS--Maleve..
Goodwin W, 3-1221101
Thomas S, 2110001
Culp L, 1-2112232
HBP--by Moran (Hicks). Umpires--home, Steve McQuaid; bases--Eric Eickert. T--2:27. A--4,501.
HOW THEY SCOREDSIXTH INNINGMAHONING VALLEY 2, UTICA 0
Scrappers: Dennis Malave grounded out. Chad Peshke singled and stole second. Josh Bard lined out. Rickie Morton tripled to center field, Peshke scored. Miguel Quintana doubled to left, Morton scored. Brian Kirby struck out. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
SEVENTH INNINGMAHONING VALLEY 3, UTICA 2
Blue Sox: Scott Hicks hit by a pitch. Jason Stokes flew out. Phillip Hartig struck out. Jacob Laidlaw singled to left, Hicks to second. Chris Louwsma tripled to right center, Hicks, Laidlaw scored. Todd Culp in to pitch for Nick Moran. Guy Lynam walked. Jason Helps flew out. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.
Scrappers: Kenton Myers grounded out. Bryce Uegawachi struck out. Maximo Made singled and stole second. Malave infield single drove Myers, Malave to second on a throwing error. Malave caught stealing. 1 run, 2 hits, 1 errors, 0 left.
EIGHTH INNINGUTICA 4, MAHONING VALLEY 3
Blue Sox: Jose Soto struck out. Kris Clute walked. Hicks walked, Clute to second. Stokes struck out. Hartig tripled to right center, Clute and Hicks scored. Brian Curtin in to pitch for Culp. Laidlaw struck out. 2 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left.