The win puts the Scrappers three games behind the Auburn Doubledays in the Pinckney Division.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- Ben Francisco hit a dramatic two-run double to the left-field corner with two outs in the eighth inning Wednesday to give the Mahoning Valley Scrappers a 5-3 win over the Auburn Doubledays at Cafaro Field.
"There was two strikes and I was just trying to put it in play," Francisco said. "He threw me the pitch, it was down, I just saw it well and got it up."
Francisco, who leads the team with a .333 batting average, scored in the first inning after being hit by a pitch and also doubled in the third.
"He's got many big hits for us this year," Scrappers manager Chris Bando said. "He's been the catalyst for us at the top of our lineup. He never quits, he battles, he's just a tremendous hitter."
Francisco's heroics came after the team battled to a 2-2 tie after seven innings. The Scrappers loaded the bases in the eighth on three walks, and Bill Peavey scored on a wild pitch for a 3-2 cushion.
One out later Francisco delivered, scoring Jonathan Van Every and Miguel Peguero.
Scrappers pitcher Michael Hernandez (3-0) got the win in relief. He threw 21/3 innings, yielding just one hit and striking out four.
"He's got good stuff," Bando said of Hernandez.
"He's got a hard slider and good fastball with a lot of movement. He did a fine job. Our pitchers kept us in the game."
That was until Francisco came up with his big hit.
"You always need the extra runs in the ninth. You never know what is going to happen, so it's good to come up with a good hit," Francisco said.
The Doubledays (23-13), who lead the Pinckney Division by three games, loaded the bases in the ninth with just one away, but Hernandez held on for the win.
The victory by the Scrappers (20-16) may have been costly as catcher David Wallace took a foul ball off his bat in the fifth and needed to be replaced.
Wallace, with a butterfly bandage under his swollen and black-and-blue right eye, was asked about stitches after the game.
"No not me. I am about to go to the hospital, but I don't think I'll need them," Wallace said.
Both his nostrils were stuffed with bloody cotton.
"I'll be in the lineup," he laughed.
Bando stood silent. The Scrappers came out with momentum early, rebounding from a 9-2 defeat Tuesday.
The Scrappers had plenty of chances early but failed to take advantage of them.
In the second inning, for example, Mahoning Valley had runners on first and third with none out, but failed to score.
Doubledays starting pitcher Brandon League was wild, but enticed three pop-ups to keep it 1-0.
In the third inning, the Scrappers used a double and two singles, but again failed to score against League.
In the fifth inning, the Scrappers went up 2-1 when Pat Osborn ripped a one-out double and Brian Wright singled him in. Wright finished with two hits.
Simon Young was effective through five innings, giving up just one run, four hits and two walks.
"This is the team we have to beat to win our division," Bando said.
"We beat them two out of three so it's a good sign for our club. We've only lost two series all year."
AUBURN MAHONING VALLEY
ab r hbi abrhbi
Hassey ss4 0 10Francisco cf4122
Rivera 2b5 0 11Larkin 2b4010
Waugh dh3 1 00Osborn 3b3111
Johnston 1b 4 120Wright rf4021
German 3b 3 0 0 0 Wallace c2010
Owens rf4 0 1 1 Peavey dh3110
Jimenez cf 3 0 01 Van Every lf2100
Porfirio lf3 0 00 Baxter dh 4010
Blackburn c 2 1 1 0 Peguero ss3100
Haase ph1 0 00
Totals 31 3 6 3 Totals30594
E--Wright, Wallace, Haase. DP--Auburn 1, Mahoning Valley 1. LOB--Auburn 9, Mahoning Valley 9. 2B--Francisco 2, Osborn. SB--Francisco, Haase, Peavey, Baxter. CS--Francisco. SF--Jimenez, Osborn. SH--German.
IP H R ER BB SO
League5 8 2 2 20
Sandoval L, 2-2113330
Young5 4 1 1 20
White 1 2-3 1 1 111
Hernandez W, 3-02 1-311024
WP--Sandoval, White. T--2:53. A--4,344.
HOW THEY SCORED
MAHONING VALLEY 1, AUBURN 0
Scrappers: Ben Francisco hit by pitch. Shaun Larkin walked, Francisco to second. Francisco stole third. Pat Osborn sacrifice fly, Francisco scored. Brian Wright grounded into 4-6-3 double play. 1 run, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 1, AUBURN 1
Doubledays: Clint Johnson singled. Cesar German flied out. Justin Owens singled, Johnson to third. Rich Jiminez sacrifice fly, Johnson scored. A.J. Porfirio flied out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 2, AUBURN 1
Scrappers: Larkin grounded out. Osborn doubled to right field corner. Wright singled in Osborn. Jeff Haase reaches on fielder's choice, Wright out at second. Bill Peavey grounded out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 2, AUBURN 2
Doubledays: Jason Waugh hit by pitch. Johnson singled, Waugh to second. German sacrifice bunt, Waugh to third, Johnson to second. Owens grounded out, Waugh scored, Johnson to third. Jiminez flied out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 5, AUBURN 2
Scrappers: Haase walked. Peavey walked, Haase to second. Haase stole third, Peavey stole second. Jonathan Van Every walked. Andy Baxter flied out. Miguel Peguero reaches on fielder's choice, Haase out at the plate, Peavey to third, Van Every to second. Wild pitch scored Peavey, Van Every to third, Peguero to second. Francisco two run double to left scored Peguero and Van Every. Larkin flied out. 3 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 5, AUBURN 3
Doubledays: Jiminez struck out. Porfirio walked. Alex Blackburn walked, Porfirio to second. Brad Hassey infield single, Porfirio to third, Blackburn to second. Rivera save on fielder's choice, Porfirio out at plate, Blackburn scored on throwing error, Hassey to third, Porfirio to second. Waugh flied out. 1 run, 1 hit, 1 error, 2 left.