First-year manager Dave Turgeon wasn't upset with the 6-1 setback to Utica.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
UTICA, N.Y. -- The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are 380 miles from home. According to manager Dave Turgeon, that may be the best place for them.
The four-game series against the Utica Blue Sox allows the Scrappers an adjustment period before their home debut Saturday against Williamsport at Cafaro Field.
"I don't mind starting on the road," Turgeon said Tuesday after the Scrappers opened the New York-Penn League season with a 6-1 loss at Donovan Stadium.
"This is good for them to get the road trip under their belt, the first hit out of the way, the first error out of the way," Turgeon said. "Pitchers can get rid of their jitters; the coaching staff works out our kinks."
The result, Turgeon said, is the team approaches a comfort level "to get back into the Mahoning Valley, and all of a sudden we have 6,000 fans."
Growth process: That growth process began Tuesday in a rare 11 a.m. start, in front of hundreds of school children enjoying a field trip.
The starting time made it difficult for Mahoning Valley players, who arrived in Utica around 3:30 a.m., following a season-opening banquet Monday evening in Niles.
"I don't think the time we got in last night had anything to do with what we did on the field today," Turgeon countered. "I thought they did OK for the first time out."
Mahoning Valley fielded a lineup different from the Pinckney-Stedler Division champion of 2000.
The familiar faces among the nine were those of pitcher Luke Field, catcher Angel Bastardo and first baseman Curtis Gay, who played at Mahoning Valley in 1999. Seldom used last season, Francis Finnerty played third base.
Field started and held Utica through the first two innings before allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits in five innings. He struck out five and walked two before being relieved by Brian Curtin and Ron Colvard.
"Luke Field did a good job, even though he didn't have his best stuff," Turgeon said.
"Curtin held them at bay and gave us a chance to come back," said Turgeon of the Scrappers reliever who allowed one hit in two innings.
Fielding a lineup that included four picks from this year's draft, the Scrappers were limited to three hits by Utica starting pitcher Denny Bautista, who allowed one run in five innings, with six strikeouts and no walks.
"They swung the bats a little bit," Turgeon said. "There were a couple of balls that, if they went through, we might still be playing right now."
Scrappers led early: Back-to-back doubles by Miguel Quintana and Rickie Morton in the first inning led to the Scrappers' only run.
"Quintana steps up and hits a double, and everyone seemed to relax after that," Turgeon said.
But Bautista settled down to retire 13 straight Scrappers before he was relieved in the sixth.
"He was pumping them in there. They said they had him on the [radar] gun at 95 mph," said Scrappers center fielder John Van Every, whose sixth-inning double was the team's only other hit. "He was hitting his spots, and he had a nasty breaking ball to go along with it."
Utica manager Kevin Boles said of Bautista, "He was tremendous. He kept the ball down in the zone and mixed his pitches well. After the first inning, he had them off balance the whole time."
Utica took a 3-1 lead after four innings and put the game away in the eighth, when Charlie Frazier hit a three-run home run off Colvard.
"You can't freak out about it," Van Every said of the loss. "It's just a long process; it's a journey."
Turgeon said, "They're going to find out quickly that they have to leave [the loss] at the yard. We've got 75 more games; you can't get too down about one."
Made 2b4000Rundgren ss4000
Van Every cf4010Wyant 2b5011
Quintana rf4110Stokes lf5030
Morton dh3011Hicks rf3000
Gay 1b3000Hartig 1b4000
Finnerty 3b3000Laidlaw dh3210
Bastardo c3000Tucker 3b3220
Thompson lf3000Frazier cf4223
Uegawachi ss2000Zapay c3032
E--Bastardo 2, Thompson. LOB -- Utica 10, Mahoning Valley 2. DP -- Mahoning Valley 2, Utica 1. HR -- Frazier. 2B -- Quintana, Morton, Van Every. CS -- Hicks.
Field L, 0-1583225
Bautista W, 1-0521106
HOW THEY SCORED
SCRAPPERS 1, BLUE SOX 0
Scrappers: Maximo Made flied out to left. John Van Every struck out. Miguel Quintana doubled to right, Rickie Morton doubled to left center, Quintana scored. Curtis Gay flied out to left. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
BLUE SOX 2, SCRAPPERS 1
Blue Sox: Michael Tucker singled to right, Charlie Frazier singled to center, Winton Zapay singled to right, Tucker scored, Zapay thrown out going to second. Rex Rundgren walked, Hunter Wyant singled to center, Frazier scored. Jason Stokes singled to right to load the bases. Scott Hicks struck out. Philip Hartig struck out. 2 runs, 5 hits, 0 errors, 3 left.
BLUE SOX 3, SCRAPPERS 1
Blue Sox: Jacob Laidlaw singled to left, Tucker reached first on catcher's interference. Frazier flied out to right. Zapay singled to right center, Laidlaw scored. Rundgren grounded out to third. Wyant grounded out to second. 1 run, 2 hits, 1 error, 2 left.
BLUE SOX 6, SCRAPPERS 1
Blue Sox: Laidlaw walked, Tucker singled to center, Frazier homered over the left center field wall, Laidlaw, Tucker, Frazier scored. Zapay reached on a catcher's interference, Rundgren reached on a fielder's choice, Zapay out at second. Wyant reached on a fielder's choice, Rundgren out at second. Stokes singled in the infield, Hicks flied out to left. 3 runs, 3 hits, 1 error, 2 left.