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Hitting streak ends for Scrappers center-fielder



Published: Mon, July 15, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Manager Chris Bando anticipates Francisco will continue to hit well.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

NILES -- The streak is over.

Mahoning Valley Scrappers center-fielder Ben Francisco took a 12-game hitting streak into Sunday's game against the Batavia Muckdogs.

But it stopped there. Francisco went 0-for-3 with a walk in the Scrappers' victory.

"It was nice while it lasted," said Francisco, a resident of Anaheim, Calif., who played at UCLA. "I hope I can start a new one."

Late start

Francisco, 20, was drafted in the fifth round this year by the Cleveland Indians. But because of a broken collarbone and classes that lasted into the summer at UCLA, Francisco didn't sign his contract until late June.

Once he put on a Scrappers uniform, though, Francisco didn't waste any time showing off his skills.

"I hadn't thought about it until this series," Francisco said of his streak. "A couple of guys on the team were saying stuff about it, joking around, but I didn't really think about it that much."

As Francisco's streak grew, so did his batting average. He took a .400 mark into Sunday's game.

"He's going to start another one, I can guarantee you that," Scrappers manager Chris Bando said. "He's had a heck of a 12 games, no doubt about it. He's an exciting player to watch."

The key to Francisco's success during the streak was a balance in hitting.

"I was hitting balls to right-field, left-field, center-field," he said. "I was putting good swings on it, I guess."

The broken collarbone, which he suffered by diving for a ball, cut Francisco's junior season short at UCLA. He still batted .368 with six home runs and 37 RBIs in 38 games to earn honorable mention in the Pac-10.

Welcome boost

Even if the streak didn't mean much to Francisco, it certainly helped his confidence in his first year in professional baseball.

"I hadn't played in three months, so I was kind of surprised by [the streak]," he said. "Once I got going, I just got more confidence."

Now that Francisco is healthy, he is able to plan his road ahead.

"Just continue to get hits, get on base as the leadoff guy and play good defense," he said. "Hopefully contribute to this great team we have, and hopefully we can keep winning."




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