NEW YORK-PENN LEAGUE Scrappers get within half game of wild card berth
They beat Aberdeen 3-2 on Brian Finegan's eighth inning home run.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
NILES -- Mahoning Valley shortstop Brian Finegan was presented the game ball in the clubhouse after the Scrappers came from behind to post a 3-2 victory over the Aberdeen Ironbirds at Eastwood Field Wednesday.
Finegan had just one home run in 213 at-bats entering Wednesday's game, but in the bottom of the eighth inning he knocked a two-strike pitch over the left field wall to give the Scrappers the victory.
Closing on New Jersey
The win moved Mahoning Valley (35-31) to within one-half game of the New Jersey Cardinals (35-30) in the wild card playoff race in the New York-Penn League.
The Scrappers play their final regular season home game tonight against Aberdeen. Then they hit the road for the final nine games of the season.
"It felt really good to help win the game," Finegan said. "I tried to make good contact and it kept going.
"I don't hit too many out," he said. "The timing of that one couldn't be any better."
Struggled against Schwabe
Up until that eighth inning the Scrappers had no success against Aberdeen starter Ryan Schwabe.
The left-hander had Mahoning Valley hitters off balance through seven innings. He allowed only four hits and struck out six batters.
Schwabe struck out designated hitter Lou Merloni, on a rehab assignment from the Cleveland Indians, three times.
"[Schwabe] threw a heck of a game for them," said Scrapper manager Mike Sarbaugh. "That was one of the best performances we seen all year. Fortunately we took advantage of getting into their bullpen."
Hiraldo pitches well
Mahoning Valley got a sterling pitching performance from Nelson Hiraldo (2-2) who allowed only two runs in seven innings, his longest outing of the year.
The Ironbirds scored in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Quincy Ascencion and added a second run on a fifth inning home run by Morgan Clendenin.
Mark Jecman came on to pitch the final two innings for the Scrappers to pick up the save without allowing a hit.
Against Aberdeen reliever Ryan Childs in the eighth, the Scrappers broke the ice when leadoff batter Fernando Pacheco hit a solo homer to cut the lead to 2-1.
Reyes breaks mark
Argenis Reyes then singled to become the team's all-time hit leader with 91 hits and Finegan followed with the game-winning blast.
"[The players] come out and they want to win every game," Sarbaugh said. "We try to put them into a position to win but it's up to them.
"These guys are definitely finding ways to win because all these games are important," he said. "Winning is a major part of their development."
Robinson 2b3100Reyes cf3110
Sultemeier cf3010Finegan ss4112
Duncan dh3000Merloni dh4000
Smith 1b3010Gimenez 3b4030
Ascencion lf4021Toregas c4000
Shafer rf4000Montgomery lf2010
Costello 3b4000Parker 2b3000
Clendenin c4111Pacheco 1b3121
Hanan ss2010Encarnacion rf3000
E--Gimenez. DP--Aberdeen 1, Scrappers 1. LOB--Aberdeen 6, Scrappers 5. 2B--Gimenez. HR--Clendenin, Finegan, Pacheco. SH--Sultemeier, Hanan. CS--Hanan, Reyes.
Childs, L 3-32-343300
Jecman, W 3-1200012
WP--Haehnel. HBP--by Hiraldo (Robinson). PB--Clendenin 2. Umpires--plate, Art Thigpen; bases, Mike Weinstein. T--2:07. A--4,001.