Despite Sunday's 3-2 loss to Hudson Valley, the team is playing better.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- With the midpoint of the New York-Penn League season approaching, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers are beginning to adjust to the rigors of professional baseball.
Coaches stress for players to develop a daily routine from the moment they arrive at the ballpark until the time they leave following a game.
"The most important thing for these guys is to have a routine," said Scrappers manager Dave Turgeon, whose team lost to the Hudson Valley Renegades 3-2 Sunday at Cafaro Field.
"When they come to the park, they need to know what to do to get ready for the game -- fundamentally and individually," Turgeon said. "They all have plans now. You're just going to see guys getting better."
Scrappers catcher Kent Myers, who played at Mesa State College, acknowledged early-season "butterflies" can get in the way of your focus as a first-year professional.
"But playing every day you get used to things," Myers said. "As you get through the season you start to relax a little, start seeing more pitching every day and you start to get used to it.
"In college you play four days a week," he said. "Now, it's every day."
Playing better: Turgeon's optimism comes in the midst of a six-game homestand in which the Scrappers (8-25) have won two of their first three games.
"They're beginning to trust their approach and stay with their approach, especially offensively. You don't see a lot of guys panicking," Turgeon said. "We're putting up more quality at-bats, we're playing better defense and we've pitched well enough to win."
Victor Kleine pitched that way Sunday against the Renegades (18-14) but took the loss in allowing two runs on six hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked three.
"[Hudson Valley] is a good-hitting club," Turgeon said. "Every mistake we made, they hit it."
Kleine (1-3), who pitched little last season at Mahoning Valley while recovering from minor shoulder problems, feels he's making progress this season.
"I was happy with the final results today," Kleine said. "I was rushing myself in my first three games. The last three innings today, I took a step back and got in a groove. I wasn't trying to force it; I was trying to get into the flow of things."
Todd Pennington and Mark Turnbow each pitched two innings in relief of Kleine.
"They came up with three runs," Turgeon said of the Renegades. "That's good enough [for us] to win most days."
No punch: The problem was the Scrappers lacked the same offense that produced 11 runs and 14 hits in an emotional 11-10 win Saturday night.
"There's no question a game like [Saturday] night takes a lot of energy," Turgeon said. "The key is to enjoy it for a minute, think about tomorrow and try to come off that high as fast as you can.
"I'm sure it affects some guys in different ways," he said. "It's certainly not an excuse."
Myers said of Sunday's loss, "It's tough when your pitchers have such a good outing. The run support just wasn't there."
Hudson Valley right-hander Brian Lockwood (3-3) kept the Scrappers off-balance, allowing one run on five hits in seven innings.
"He had very good command of his offspeed stuff," Turgeon said. "He's not an overpowering guy, but he didn't need to be. He was pretty impressive -- for any level."
Designated hitter Curtis Gay hit an RBI double in the second inning for the Scrappers' first run. The other came in the eighth inning when Francis Finnerty hit into a double play with the bases loaded, allowing Brian Kirby to score.
HUDSON VALLEYMAHONING VALLEY
Cortez 3b5000Colmenter ss4010
DePaula ss5010Edwards 3b3010
Gonzalez dh4140Finnerty 3b1000
Reece 1b4000Quintana rf4010
Rico lf5121Morton 1b4110
Clark rf3000Van Every cf4010
Harrison 2b4120Myers c4000
Merritt c4011Gay dh2011
Dion cf2000Kirby lf2100
DP--Hudson Valley 2. LOB--Hudson Valley 11, Mahoning Valley 4. 2B--Gonzalez, Rico, Merritt, Gay. SB--Made. CS--Dion, Quintana.
Lockwood W, 3-3751114
Bustillos S, 6100002
Kleine L, 1-3562233
WP--Turnbow. PB--Myers. Umpires--Steve McMullin, home; Chris Conroy, bases. T--2:09. A--5,273.
HOW THEY SCORED
RENEGADES 1, SCRAPPERS 1
Renegades: Matt Rico doubled to left, Aaron Clark walked, Vincent Harrison flied out to center, Rico to third, Clark to second. Graig Merritt flied out to third. Rico scored on a passed ball, Clark to third. Nate Dion walked, caught stealing. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left.
Scrappers: Rickie Morton singled to left, Jonathan Van Every struck out. Kenton Myers flied out to center. Curtis Gay doubled to left, Morton scored. Brian Kirby flied out to left. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
RENEGADES 2, SCRAPPERS 1
Renegades: Clark grounded out to second. Harrison singled to right, Merritt doubled to left, Harrison scored. Dion flied out to center. Fernando Cortez struck out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
RENEGADES 3, SCRAPPERS 1
Renegades: Luis DePaula struck out. Edgar Gonzalez singled to left, Eric Reece walked, Gonzalez to second. Rico singled to left, Gonzalez scored. Clark flied out to right. Harrison struck out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.
RENEGADES 3, SCRAPPERS 2
Scrappers: Kirby walked, Chad Peshke singled in the infield, Jesus Colmenter singled in the infield to load the bases. Francis Finnerty hit into a double play, Colmenter out at second, Finnerty out at first, Kirby scored, Peshke to third. Miguel Quintana flied out to right. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.