Keith Ramsey, a recent Cleveland Indians draftee, wants to settle into a role with Mahoning Valley.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- Chris Bando's eyes were locked on his office television.
The Cleveland Indians had just defeated the New York Yankees on Bill Selby's ninth-inning grand slam.
Bando, the former Indians catcher, was beaming: Tribe 10, Yankees 7.
He had reason to be happy. Not only did his former team beat the rival Yankees, his current team in which he manages, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, righted itself again.
After a three-game losing skid, the Scrappers won their second straight Sunday with a 5-1 victory over the Batavia Muckdogs at Cafaro Field.
Chance for sweep
The Scrappers will try for a three-game sweep tonight at home with left-hander Victor Kleine, who is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA, on the mound.
"Hopefully we can take these [two wins] and run with it and see if we can distance ourselves a little bit from the pack," said second baseman Shaun Larkin.
For the second straight game, the Scrappers received reliable pitching. After allowing two hits in a 9-0 win Saturday night, the New York-Penn League's second-best pitching staff surrendered five hits Sunday.
"The clich & eacute; is pitching and defense win championships. The perfect example has been the last two days," Larkin said. "Pitching is the key, as tough as it is for a hitter to admit."
This time it was left-hander Keith Ramsey, making his first start, who paved the way for the Scrappers.
Ramsey was a closer during his junior year at the University of Florida, and he started as a senior. Now, the Indians' 10th-round selection in this year's amateur draft, who signed on June 22, wants to settle into a role with the Scrappers.
Scrappers coaches are hoping Ramsey fills the spot previously held by right-hander Kyle Evans, who was promoted to Class A Kinston earlier this month.
"We basically wanted to prepare Ramsey to take [Evans'] spot in the rotation," Bando said. "So we needed to start building up his pitches so he could actually make a start."
Before his start Sunday, Ramsey pitched in three games, totaling six innings, for the Scrappers.
"It was spot relief," Ramsey said. "I needed a couple of innings here and there to work myself into the whole swing of things."
Ramsey retired the first six batters he faced and got out of trouble in the third inning. With runners at the corners and nobody out, Ramsey struck out the side.
"I wanted to bear down and get a double play," Ramsey said. "Fortunately, I got the strikeouts."
Bando said, "That shows you his make-up -- never panicked, stuck to the game plan -- and that's what winning pitchers do."
Ramsey reached his pitch count of 50 with two outs in the fourth inning. He allowed the one run on three hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Relievers Todd Pennington and Ignacio Montano finished off Batavia (12-14), with Pennington (2-1) earning the win with 31/3 innings of hitless ball.
"Any time you pitch like that and score some runs early, it makes it tough to overcome," Bando said.
The Scrappers (14-12) took command in the second inning with five consecutive singles that produced a 3-0 lead.
Shaun Larkin's solo home run in the fourth made it 4-1, and Pat Osborn's RBI single in the fifth completed the scoring.
Larkin, Osborn and Dave Wallace each had two hits for the Scrappers.
"Vermont slammed the door on us," Bando said of the Expos' recent three-game sweep of his team. "But our offense is picking up again."
Rodriguez ss4000Francisco cf3000
Marshall rf4000Baxter 1b3110
Silvera 2b3110Wright lf4000
Cafiero 1b4010Peavey dh2000
Pratt c4011Osborn 3b4121
Rivero cf3000Larkin 2b3221
Manfred dh4010Wallace c4121
Rivera lf3010Conroy rf4011
Wardinsky 3b3000Abreu ss2011
E--Cafiero, Uegawachi. LOB--Batavia 6, Mahoning Valley 6. HR--Larkin. 2B--Manfred, Silvera, Baxter. SB--Rivera, Silvera, Osborn. CS--Abreu, Francisco, Rivero.
Arteaga L, 1-1595532
Pennington W, 2-13 1-300004
HBP--by Pennington (Silvera). Umpires--Trevor Grieve, home; Bill Coble, bases. T--2:13. A--5,811.
HOW THEY SCORED
MAHONING VALLEY 3, BATAVIA 0
Scrappers: Erick Arteaga pitching. Bill Peavey flied out to right. Pat Osborn singled to center, Shaun Larkin singled to left, Osborn to third. David Wallace singled to left, Osborn scored, Larkin to second. Mike Conroy singled to right, Larkin scored, Wallace to second. Angel Abreu singled to right, Wallace scored, Conroy, Abreu out on the bases. 3 runs, 5 hits, 0 errors, 0 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 4, BATAVIA 1
Muckdogs: Keith Ramsey pitching. Andres Silvera doubled to right, stole third. Rob Cafiero struck out. Trent Pratt grounded out to third, Silvera scored. Luis Rivero walked. Todd Pennington pitching. Brian Manfred grounded into a fielder's choice, Rivero out at second. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left.
Scrappers: Arteaga pitching. Larkin homered over the right-field wall. Wallace singled to center, Conroy grounded out to first, Wallace to second. Abreu reached on an error by the first baseman, Wallace to third. Abreu out at second, caught stealing. Ben Francisco flied out to right. 1 run, 2 hits, 1 error, 1 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 5, BATAVIA 1
Scrappers: Arteaga pitching. Andrew Baxter doubled over the wall in left center, Brian Wright grounded out to second, Baxter to third. Peavey flied out to left. Osborn singled to left, Baxter scored. Osborn stole second. Larkin walked. Wallace flied out to right. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.