Mahoning Valley lost to New Jersey, 7-2, to cap struggling season at Cafaro Field.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- Cafaro Field didn't offer the Mahoning Valley Scrappers a home-field advantage this season. Nothing changed Wednesday in the 2001 finale.
"We've been playing pretty good baseball the last three weeks, except at home," Scrappers manager Dave Turgeon said following his team's 7-2 loss to the New Jersey Cardinals.
"These fans never saw these guys play their best baseball."
The Scrappers (26-49) split their home and road wins evenly at 13.
While the numbers don't reveal a major difference between venues, they do prove this: Mahoning Valley didn't take advantage of the Cafaro Field confines.
"For a number of reasons, they weren't comfortable playing at home," said Turgeon, whose team won two of their final six games at Cafaro Field to end the season.
"Usually, guys like to play at home, sleep in their own bed, get in a nice routine," he said. "It's a different story here. They don't play the same baseball at home."
At the bottom: Wednesday's loss to the Cardinals ensured Mahoning Valley last place in the Pinckney-Stedler Division of the New York-Penn League. It's an unusual position for the Scrappers after winning the division each of their first two seasons at Mahoning Valley.
"We didn't play real well tonight," Turgeon said. "We did some things fundamentally wrong that doesn't show up in the boxscore. We didn't put ourselves in position to win that game."
The Scrappers went into the game planning to use a variety of pitchers. Of the six they sent to the mound, none got hit harder than starter Jason MacKintosh, who was charged with five runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Paul Martinez, Brian Farman, Chris Cooper, Brian Curtin and Scott Sturkie followed MacKintosh to the mound.
"At the end of the season, arms are tired so we wanted to give everyone some rest," said Cooper, a native of Sewickley, Pa., on why a usual starter didn't make an appearance.
New Jersey (35-41) had 15 hits against Scrappers pitching. The Cardinals had five in the second inning alone, including two triples and a double off MacKintosh, as they took a 5-0 lead.
Highlights: A couple of players did end the season strong for Mahoning Valley.
One night after he went 3-for-4, the Scrappers' Angel Bastardo, the designated hitter Wednesday, hit a solo home run in the bottom half of the second. First baseman Rickie Morton, coming off the league's Batter of the Week honor, was 2-for-3, with a double.
For the most part, however, New Jersey starter Danny Haren silenced Mahoning Valley. At one stretch, from the second inning through the sixth, Haren retired 14 straight batters.
The Scrappers, who struck out 13 times, performed as if they lacked the concentration needed to win. On the last day of the season, players were busy cleaning out lockers and planning trips out of town.
"This is my 15th season, and I've seen it 15 times now," Turgeon said. "The last game comes around and -- boom -- people are gone in a matter of moments. It's amazing to me."
Cooper said, "Everyone's excited about getting home. It's been a tough season, so it makes it a little easier to leave."
NEW JERSEYMAHONING VALLEY
J. Nelson ss4011Made 2b1000
Fox 2b5000Lillash 2b2000
Roman rf3000Peshke 3b4010
Pearl rf2120Morton 1b3020
Williams 3b3120Quintana cf4000
Jones lf2110Bastardo dh4111
Schmitt 1b4010Kirby lf4120
Santore lf-3b5133Santini rf4001
Espino dh5111Myers c4010
Robison cf4121Alayon ss2000
B. Nelson c5121Uegawachi ss1000
E--Myers, Peshke, Santore. DP--New Jersey 2, Mahoning Valley 1. LOB--New Jersey 11, Mahoning Valley 6. HR--Bastardo. 3B--Santor, Robison, Kirby. 2B--Williams, Schmitt, Morton, Jones, Santor. SB--Robison 2, B. Nelson, Williams. CS--Williams.
Haren W, 3-3641119
MacKintosh L, 1-11 1-355501
WP--MacKintosh. HBP--J. Nelson (by Farman). Umpires--Jerry Deneen, home; Brett McCrery, bases. T--2:33. A--6,728.
HOW THEY SCORED
NEW JERSEY 5, MAHONING VALLEY 1
Cardinals: Matt Williams doubled to right, Billy Schmitt flied out to center. John Santor tripled to left center, Williams scored. Jose Espino singled to left, Santor scored. Jordan Robison tripled to center, Espino scored. Bruce Nelson singled to right, Robison scored. John Nelson hit into a fielder's choice, Bruce Nelson scored. Paul Martinez pitching. Michael Fox flied out to third. Jesse Roman struck out. 5 runs, 5 hits, 1 error, 1 left.
Scrappers: Angel Bastardo homered over the left-field wall. Brian Kirby singled to right, Travis Santini struck out. Kent Myers struck out. Jean Alayon struck out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
NEW JERSEY 5, MAHONING VALLEY 2
Scrappers: Richie Burgess pitching. Bastardo struck out. Kirby tripled into the right-field corner, Santini reached on an error by the third baseman, Kirby scored. Myers singled up the middle, Santini to second. Bryce Uegawachi hit into a 6-4-3 double play, Myers out at second. 1 run, 2 hits, 1 error, 1 left.
NEW JERSEY 7, MAHONING VALLEY 2
Cardinals: Brian Curtin pitching. Matt Pearl singled to right, Jeff Jones doubled to left, Pearl to third. Schmitt was intentionally walked to load the bases. Santor doubled to right, Pearl, Jones scored, Schmitt to third. Espino grounded out to third. Robison was intentionally walked to load the bases. Scott Sturkie pitching. Bruce Nelson hit into a 5-4-3 double play, Robison out at second. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.