He homered and tripled as the Scrappers toppled Aberdeen 5-1 at Cafaro Field.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- Just when the Mahoning Valley Scrappers needed a power infusion, third-baseman Pat Osborn rediscovered his swing.
The Scrappers, who have effectively been using pitching and defense to remain in the heat of the Pinckney Division race of the New York-Penn League, used Osborn's two extra-base hits to beat the Aberdeen Ironbirds 5-1 Wednesday at Cafaro Field.
The Scrappers (23-19) are second in the league with 30 home runs, but four players (Jeff Haase 7, Jonathan Van Every 5, Shaun Larkin 5 and Andy Baxter 4) have accounted for 21 of them.
Osborn hit his first triple of the season off the wall in right-center with Larkin on base in the first inning for a 1-0 lead.
In the third frame, after Ben Francisco led off with a double, Osborn cracked his first professional home run, a 375-foot shot over the wall in left, to make it 4-1.
"He swung the bat real well in Williamsport [last weekend] and he picked up where he left off," Scrappers manager Chris Bando said of Osborn.
"You can tell he's a very good hitter and offensive player and we definitely need him in the middle of that lineup."
Breaks out of slump
Osborn, 21, who played at the University of Florida, had 84 at-bats on the year with just nine RBIs and four doubles to show. He drove in three runs on his 2-for-3 night.
"It feels good, I've been struggling a little bit," Osborn said of his homer. "I had a good feeling it was gone; I hit it pretty good."
He was caught a little bit by surprise by the three-base hit.
"I usually don't get a lot of triples. He [third-base coach Willie Aviles] had me tired out there. He kept waving me around," Osborn said with a chuckle.
With Osborn leading the way at the plate, pitchers Victor Kleine, Michael Hernandez and Ignacio Montano could get to work.
Kleine (4-2) went the first five innings, allowed four hits and a run. He finished strong, retiring six in a row.
"Victor pitched five innings and kept us in the ball game," Bando said. "He pitched good enough to win and that's all you got to do."
Hernandez (1.90 earned-run average) stopped the Ironbirds (17-25) cold.
Bullpen saves day
"We got good pitching," Bando said. "Our bullpen did a spectacular job. Michael Hernandez has been outstanding all year; he's been really been dominating. This kid's really got a bright future."
Starting in the top of the sixth inning, Hernandez faced 10 batters and struck out six.
"He's been throwing like that all season long," Bando said. "You're going to see him in a big league uniform down the road in his career."
Larkin added a pair of singles, while Francisco had three hits, a pair of doubles, and scored.
"Ben's been doing that all season," Bando said. "He's been hitting the ball hard all season and getting on base and making things happen."
Francisco said of his three-hit game, "It set the tone for the whole day."
The Scrappers remain two games behind Auburn in the standings.
Fahey ss5000Francisco cf4130
Del Rosario 2b3000Larkin 2b3120
Soriano 2b2000Osborn 3b3223
Stephenson lf3110Wright rf3011
Huggins 1b4010Haase c4110
Majewski cf4011Peavey 1b3000
Gilhooly rf4010Baxter dh3010
Jordan dh3000Conroy lf4011
Hubele c4010Peguero ss3000
E--Larkin. DP--Ironbirds 3. LOB--Ironbirds 10, Scrappers 6. 2B--Francisco 2 (12). 3B--Osborn (1). HR--Osborn (1). SF--Wright. SB--Stephenson, Baxter.
McCurdy L, 3-53 1-364420
Kleine W, 4-2541120
Umpires--Home, Josh Carlyle; second, Justin Vogle. T--2:25. A--4,377.
HOW THEY SCORED
MAHONING VALLEY 2, ABERDEEN 0
Scrappers: Ben Francisco grounded out. Shaun Larkin reached on an infield single. Pat Osborn tripled to right-center field wall, scoring Larkin. Brian Wright drives in Osborn with a sacrifice fly. Jeff Haase flew out. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 4, ABERDEEN 1
Ironbirds: Manny Del Rosario grounded out. Neal Stephenson hit by a pitch. Mike Huggins flew out. Stephenson stole second. Val Majewski singled in Stephenson. Tim Gilhooly flew out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left.
Scrappers: Francisco doubled to left. Larkin flew out. Osborn hit a 375-foot homer to left, scoring Francisco. Wright singled. Haase hit into a 5-4-3 double play. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 0 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 5, ABERDEEN 1
Scrappers: Haase singled. Bill Peavey grounded out, Haase advances to second. Andy Baxter flew out. Mike Conroy singled in Haase. Miguel Peguero grounded out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.