Mahoning Valley rallied from a 7-0 deficit and loaded the bases in the last inning.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- The sky was gorgeous with distinct gray cumulus clouds punctuating the vivid blue backdrop.
The flag, which hung at half mast in respect to former President Ronald Reagan, blew slightly out toward right.
The temperature at Eastwood Field reached 70 degrees for the Father's Day crowd of 3,641 to enjoy the New York-Penn League game in shirtsleeves.
The only thing missing Sunday afternoon was great pitching by the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
The Auburn Doubledays rode an impressive pitching performance to an 8-5 win over the Scrappers.
The story of the game is told in comparing the two starting pitchers.
Pitching is big factor
Casey McKenzie yielded just one base runner in the first four innings and left the game with the Doubledays (1-2) leading 6-0.
In contrast, Scrapper starter Matt Haynes gave up three runs, three hits and hit a batter in his first inning alone.
"Their starter had good command of all his pitches," Mahoning Valley (2-1) Manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "He kept the ball down and he got ahead of us. Our hitters weren't very aggressive."
McKenzie was lifted after four innings due to a high pitch count. Haynes was gone after two.
"Haynes is a young kid, his first time out," Sarbaugh said. "Sometimes you're going to expect that. He had some jitters.
"He came back that second inning and threw a very good inning. The second inning is something he can build off of. Somedays you're going to have that; you got to fight through it."
Last of the ninth
While the Scrappers fell behind 7-0 in the sixth, there was still drama in the last of the ninth inning.
Outfielder Teo Encarnacion, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, came to the plate with the bases loaded and two out with his team trailing 8-5.
Somewhere a fan whispered that the only thing separating Encarnacion from the status of an instant legend was a grand slam.
After fighting off a few pitches, Encarnacion flew out to medium center field to end the game.
"I swung at a bad pitch," he said while autographing a variety of items for anxious fans waiting by the fence. "He threw me bad pitches. I need to swing at a good pitch, not at a bad pitch."
Sarbaugh liked situation
Sarbaugh said he was happy to see Encarnacion come up to bat with the outcome very much on the line.
"We were feeling good about him being up. The guy caught him off balance," Sarbaugh said. "He can build off that on a personal standpoint."
Argenis Reyes also had two singles in a nine-hit attack, including a base knock in the ninth inning.
"In the ninth, we got some guys on base and I felt like we were still in the game," Sarbaugh said.
Mathews cf5220Reyes 2b5120
Armstrong ss4000Clem 3b4100
Esposito 3b4121Parker dh5010
Acey 2b4220Butia lf4210
Metropoulos dh4221Encarnacion rf5132
Kratz c5012Finegan ss3010
Mangioni rf4010Pacheco 1b4013
Nielsen lf4122Cruz cf4010
Hicks 1b4020Toregas c2000
E--Day. DP--Scrappers 2. LOB--Doubledays 11, Scrappers 9. 2B--Acey, Kratz 1. 3B--Mathews. HR--Nielsen. SB--Armstrong. CS--Nielsen.
Neylan, W 1-01.123321
Day, S 1120001
Haynes, L 0-1233321
WP--Neylan, Santana. HBP--by Haynes (Mangioni); by Neylan (Butia). PB--Toregas. Umpires--Home, Victor Carapazza; Second, Tom Clarke. T--3:07. A--3,641.