Outfielder Mike Conroy came into the game hitting .131 and went 5-for-5 for the Scrappers.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- The Pinckney Division's top two teams have some differences to settle beginning today at Cafaro Field.
With the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Auburn Doubledays battling for one of three New York-Penn League division crowns (in addition to a playoff spot), the Pinckney race is about to get even hotter.
The Scrappers, two games off the division lead heading into Saturday night's action, host Auburn in a two-game series.
Although there are still 24 games remaining in the regular season, head-to-head match-ups might provide one team with the upper hand down the stretch.
"The intensity has been there and will continue to be there," Scrappers manager Chris Bando said. "It will be a lot of fun going head-to-head [with Auburn]. We look forward to the challenge and the next two games with them."
Mahoning Valley comes into the game with a three-game winning streak following Saturday's 10-5 victory over the Tri-City ValleyCats at Cafaro Field.
The Scrappers completed the three-game sweep of the ValleyCats by breaking a 3-3 tie and going ahead for good with three runs in the fifth inning.
But it was several breakout performances that lifted Mahoning Valley past Tri-City, none more eye-catching than Mike Conroy's 5-for-5 game.
"In his last at-bat, I said I would buy him steak and lobster if he got his fifth hit -- or if he got on base," said Bando, who will fulfill his promise on the team's next road trip after Conroy singled. "He deserves it. He played a great game."
Conroy, a 19-year-old outfielder from Scituate, Mass., came into the game batting just .131. He came out of his slump by taking control of Tri-City pitching.
"It was good to see Mike Conroy have the hits fall for him," Bando said. "No one works harder than Mike Conroy. He gives you 100 percent."
Conroy singled four times, including two hits that stayed in the infield, and doubled as the Scrappers (31-21) collected 15 hits for the game.
"It's been a rough season," Conroy said. "Nights like tonight are hard to come by. Being the young kid on the team, it's hard to stay within yourself and concentrate, but I've been doing better lately."
The league leader with a .407 batting average coming into the game, center-fielder Ben Francisco went 2-for-4 with a sacrifice bunt, a walk and three runs scored, and third baseman Pat Osborn drove in five runs with a double and two singles.
"Ben Francisco and Pat Osborn got big hits early in the game," Bando said. "[Francisco] has been getting a lot of two-out RBI hits."
On the mound
Victor Kleine benefited from the Scrappers' fifth-inning runs, getting the win and improving his record to 6-2. In five innings, the left-hander allowed three runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Chip Southerland and Matt Blethen finished the game on the mound for the Scrappers.
After the game, outfielder Jonathan Van Every said good-bye to teammates. He was promoted to Class A Columbus (Ga.). He went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs Saturday.
Cespedes cf3000Francisco cf4321
Sandoval 2b5010Van Every rf4123
Macchi dh5000Osborn 3b4035
Peavey 3b5110Baxter dh4000
Topham ss5131Haase c2000
Covarrubias rf5121Peavey 1b5110
Seuss lf4100Larkin 2b4111
Jones c3120Simoneaux ss4210
Salmela 1b4033Conroy lf5250
E--Peavey, Sandoval, Seuss. DP--Tri-City 2. LOB--Mahoning Valley 12, Tri-City 10. HR--Larkin. 2B--Osborn, Topham 2, Covarrubias, Conroy, Van Every, Salmela. SH--Francisco. SF--Van Every. SB--Topham. CS--Haase.
Ally L, 1-1343310
Kleine W, 6-2573323
HBP--by Hamilton (Osborn), by Ally (Haase), by Southerland (Cespedes). PB--Haase. Umpires--Home, Josh Carlyle; bases, Justin Vogle. T--2:46. A--4,869.
HOW THEY SCORED
MAHONING VALLEY 2, TRI-CITY 0
Scrappers: Ben Francisco singled to left, Jonathan Van Every reached first on a bunt, Francisco to second. Pat Osborn doubled down the left-field line, Francisco, Van Every scored. Andrew Baxter flied out to center. Jeff Haase walked, Bill Peavey grounded out to third, Osborn to third, Haase to second. Shaun Larkin flied out to center. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 3, TRI-CITY 2
ValleyCats: Pat Peavey grounded out to short. Andy Topham doubled to right, Nick Covarrubias doubled to left, Topham scored. Adam Seuss flied out to third. Kendall Jones walked, Andy Salmela singled up the middle, Covarrubias scored, Jones to third. Robinson Cespedes walked to load the bases. Jjalil Sandoval grounded into a fielder's choice, Cespedes out at second. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 3 left.
Scrappers: Neil Simoneaux walked, Mike Conroy singled to left, Simoneaux to second. Francisco bunted to sacrifice Simoneaux to third, Conroy to second. Van Every flied out to left to sacrifice Simoneaux home. Osborn hit by pitch. Baxter struck out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 6, TRI-CITY 3
ValleyCats: Sandoval struck out. Brandon Macchi lined out back to the pitcher. Peavey singled to right, Topham doubled to left, Peavey scored. Covarrubias grounded out to third. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
Scrappers: Peavey singled to right, Larkin reached on an error by the second baseman, Peavey to second. Simoneaux flied out to third. Conroy singled in the infield, Peavey to third, Larkin to second to load the bases. Francisco singled to right, Peavey scored, Larkin to third, Conroy to second. Van Every hit into a fielder's choice, Larkin out at home, Conroy to third, Francisco to second. Osborn singled to left, Conroy, Francisco scored. Van Every to third, Osborn to second on error by the left-fielder. Baxter grounded out to second. 3 runs, 4 hits, 1 error, 2 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 9, TRI-CITY 3
Scrappers: Simoneaux singled up the middle, Conroy doubled down the left-field line, Simoneaux to third. Francisco walked, Conroy to second to load the bases. Van Every hit a ground-rule double to right, Simoneaux, Conroy scored, Francisco to third. Osborn singled up the middle, Francisco scored, Van Every to third. Baxter struck out. Haase hit into a 3-6-1 double play. 3 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 10, TRI-CITY 5
ValleyCats: Topham grounded out to short. Covarrubias singled to left center, Seuss hit into a fielder's choice, Covarrubias out at second. Jones singled to center, Seuss to second. Salmela doubled to right, Seuss, Jones scored. Cespedes grounded out back to the pitcher. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
Scrappers: Peavey flied out to left. Larkin homered over the right-field wall. Simoneaux lined out to first. Conroy singled to left, Francisco grounded out to short. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.