Gus Hlebovy got his fifth save in Vermont's 4-2 win over Mahoning Valley.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- An impressive pitching performance was wasted Tuesday when the Mahoning Valley Scrappers imploded in the ninth inning and fell to Vermont 4-2 at Eastwood Field.
The first four pitchers for the Scrappers -- Chris Niesel, Matt Haynes, Mark Jecman and Roger Lincoln -- combined to hold the Expos to one hit over the first eight innings.
However, Vermont (9-10) used that single, a walk and a sacrifice fly to score a run in the fourth and still led 1-0 after seven full innings.
Niesel was particularly effective in his first start, yielding just one hit in four innings.
Over 81/3 innings in two appearances, the former Notre Dame pitcher has allowed just one hit and one walk and has struck out 11.
"He was throwing strikes with all his pitches," Scrappers manager Mike Sarbaugh said of Niesel. "You can't say much more than he did a great job with his pitching."
Meanwhile, Mahoning Valley (7-12) hitters were having their problems solving two Expos pitchers. At one point, 17 straight Scrappers were retired.
Things changed in the eighth. With one out, Mario Matulich walked, and one out later Brett Parker hit a pop-up that was dropped foul by the catcher.
Immediately, Parker hit his first homer of the season -- 390-feet to left -- for a stunning 2-1 lead.
"It feels good," Parker said of his first homer. "He gave me a good pitch to hit and I got a good swing on it. And, I gave it a good ride.
"I was hoping we'd get a win out of it, but that's the way baseball goes."
Parker admitted he never would have homered if not for the error by the catcher.
"It was a fastball," he said. "I got lucky with the catcher dropping the ball. I put a pretty good swing on it and connected it well."
Matt Knox came on to pitch for Mahoning Valley in the ninth. He was knocked around, issuing two home runs, a double, a single and a walk as the Expos scored three times.
Gus Hlebovy, a graduate of Campbell Memorial High School, got his fifth save by striking out two of the four Scrappers he faced in the ninth inning.
"This is just where I wanted to be," Hlebovy said after the win. "I was praying to God we'd get a couple of runs, and once that happened I knew right there I was going in."
Vermont scored three times in the ninth to present Hlebovy an opportunity to pitch at home.
"That's the most ready I've been all year," he said. "I think I found the right mental approach. I feel like I'm back on track again."
The Expos had five hits, including the four in the ninth inning. The Scrappers had three hits, but just one after the second inning.
"We had our chances," Sarbaugh said. "We didn't swing the bats well, but we made up for it in the end and just couldn't hold the lead."
Vroman cf3211Reyes 3b4000
Castro ss4010Szabo 2b 4000
Lowrance lf3010Gimenez rf4010
Legrade pr0100Butia lf4000
Clanton lf0000Montgmry cf4000
Baez rf3113Toregas c3000
Ivany dh4000Matulich 1b 2110
Poppert c3000Finegan ss3000
Mortimer 1b4010Parker dh 3112
Ditter 2b 4000
E--Poppert, Conway, Szabo, Montgomery. DP--Scrappers 1. LOB--Expos 4, Scrappers 3 2B--Lowrance, Matulich. HR--Vroman, Baez, Parker. SF--Baez.
Sandoval W, 3-1212012
Hlebovy S, 5110002
Knox L, 0-2143311
Umpires--Home, Matt Beaver; Bases, Joe Harris. T--2:14. A--3,100.