Mahoning Valley wasted a strong start by pitcher Blake Allen in a 5-3 loss to Vermont.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- For six innings behind left-hander Blake Allen, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers appeared unbeatable.
Then Allen left the game.
After the Scrappers bullpen was bullied for five runs in two innings, Mahoning Valley dropped a 5-3 decision to the Vermont Expos Thursday before 3,579 fans at Cafaro Field.
Allen was nearly untouchable for six innings, allowing just one base hit (a bloop single in the first inning), while striking out five and walking three.
Allen left the game with a 1-0 lead after reaching his 90 pitch limit.
Relievers Kevin Martin and Chris White weren't nearly as effective. Martin gave up three runs in the seventh inning and White was touched for two more in the eighth, including a towering home run by Larry Broadway. Martin (0-2) suffered the loss.
Vermont starter Pierre-Luc Marceau (1-3) was nearly as effective as Allen, hurling seven strong innings and allowing just one earned run on four hits with four strikeouts.
"We didn't get a whole lot of help from our bullpen tonight," Scrappers manager Chris Bando said. "They just didn't come in throwing strikes.
"We made one bad play in the outfield and it cost us a couple of runs, while their center fielder made a great play and took us out of a big inning," Bando said.
That one bad play in the outfield came in the Expos' seventh inning.
With one out and a runner on first, Nathan Weese hit a fly ball to right field, but the Scrappers' Mike Conroy fell down going after the ball and it fell in for a double.
Henry Encarnacion followed with an RBI single and when Encarnacion stole second, catcher Dave Wallace's throw went into center field, allowing the second run to score. The Expos scored their third run on an infield groundout.
In the Expos' eighth inning, Broadway led off with a shot over the right field wall. Vermont added another run on a walk, a Scrappers' error and a sacrifice fly by Mike Schneider.
In all, the Scrappers committed four errors.
Mahoning Valley rallied in the bottom of the eighth as they loaded the bases with one out on a walk to Shaun Larkin, a pinch-hit single by Bill Peavey and an infield single by Ben Francisco.
Andy Baxter drilled a single to right field, scoring two runs.
With runners on second and third with two outs, Brian Wright hit a shot to deep center field, but Reggie Fitzpatrick ran it down, making the catch while crashing into the wall for the final out of the inning.
The Scrappers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Francisco led off with a single off the glove of Broadway at first base.
Baxter followed with a single to right and Francisco went to third. After Pat Osborn struck out, Wright hit a grounder to second, scoring Francisco. Allen allowed a bloop single with two outs in the first to Broadway and then retired nine straight.
The Scrappers made two errors behind him and he walked three, but was never in trouble.
"Blake [Allen] pitched an outstanding game," Bando said. "He was in complete control out there, but unfortunately he didn't get any help out of the bullpen."
"He was on a 90 pitch count and had reached 86 pitches when we took him out after the sixth inning," Bando said.
The loss, the second straight to the Expos, drops the Scrappers to 12-11 in the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League.
The two teams meet again tonight at 7 before Batavia travels to Cafaro Field for a three-game series beginning Saturday night.