NEW YORK-PENN LEAGUE Finding hope at home
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers won their first game, a 2-0 win over the Batavia Muckdogs.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- A visit home was exactly what the Mahoning Valley Scrappers needed.
After losing three games in Auburn to open the New York-Penn League season, the Scrappers found hope Friday in the confines of Cafaro Field.
"We got the monkey off our back," said Scrappers manager Chris Bando, after his team's 2-0 victory over the Batavia Muckdogs. "Everybody relaxed a little bit more and played like they are capable of playing."
The Scrappers (1-3) also found hope in pitcher Shane Wallace and designated hitter Bill Peavey.
Working his way back from elbow surgery, the left-handed Wallace made his first start in over a year. He couldn't have been much better.
"He was pretty much near perfect tonight," Bando said. "When you throw around the strike zone and the defense makes plays, it makes for a good ball game."
Wallace, a native of Carrollton, Texas, retired the first 11 batters he faced.
He shut out the Muckdogs (1-3) in six innings, allowing just three hits while striking out four and walking none.
"It's been almost a year since my last start," said Wallace, who benefited from his sinker. "It feels good to pitch the way that I know I can."
A special guest sitting behind home plate helped to push Wallace along. It was his mom, Cindy, who arrived in town Friday.
"My mom was here, so it was awesome," Wallace said. "I know she was happy to see me throw well."
Wallace (1-0) cruised through the first three innings before allowing back-to-back singles to Terry Jones and Ryan Barthelemy, respectively, with two outs in the fourth.
Wallace got out of the sixth inning, but not before hitting two batters.
"It's nice to be out there and not have anything [physically] wrong," said Wallace, who was on an 80-pitch count. "I'm looking forward to getting out there again."
A little offensive
Meanwhile, Peavey, a first-year player from USC, boosted a Scrappers offense that has been in need of some help. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound designated hitter went 3-for-3, with an RBI and a run scored.
"I'm getting good pitches to hit and I'm trying to put a good swing on them," Peavey said.
For the second straight day, Scrappers center-fielder Jonathan Van Every had two hits. One was a stinger off the back of Batavia pitcher Whit Bryant in the third inning.
Brian Wright and Matt Knox accounted for the Scrappers' other two hits.
"We have a number of guys who can hit," Bando said. "We made better contact. You have to do that to be successful."
Knox knocked Peavey home in the second inning for the team's first run. Knox's hit bounced off the mound and into the outfield, and Peavey, who was on second after a wild pitch, slid home to beat the throw.
Peavey gave Mahoning Valley an insurance run in his third at-bat. He singled to right in the sixth inning to score Wright for the second run. It proved to be enough.
"I'm sure the guys will breathe a little easier and sleep a little better," Bando said of the win.
The Scrappers survived a scare in the seventh inning when Batavia loaded the bases with two outs against Todd Culp, who relieved Wallace. That's when Bando went to his bullpen and called on Todd Pennington to save the Scrappers.
"He's our closer," Bando said. "That's what he's supposed to do."
Pennington induced Carlos Rodriguez on a flyout to end the inning and then worked the eighth and ninth for his first save.
"All we try to do is come in and throw strikes," said Pennington of the bullpen.
"Nobody likes to lose," he said of the team's early struggles. "We told each other that we're not going to lose today."
HOW THEY SCORED
MAHONING VALLEY 1, BATAVIA 0
Scrappers: Whit Bryant pitching. Dave Wallace grounded out back to the pitcher. Andrew Baxter flied out to left. Bill Peavey singled to center, advanced to second on a wild pitch. Matt Knox singled to center, Peavey scored. Mike Conroy walked, Knox to second. Angel Abreu struck out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 2, BATAVIA 0
Scrappers: Zach Minor pitching. Jonathan Van Every flied out to left. Brian Wright singled in the infield, advanced to second on a balk. Wallace struck out. Baxter struck out but advanced to first on a wild pitch, Wright to third. Peavey singled to right, Wright scored, Baxter to third. Knox struck out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.