By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
AUBURN, N.Y. -- Fireworks that brightened the nighttime sky over Falcon Park symbolized the team celebrating in the visitor's clubhouse.
"It's amazing," Mahoning Valley Scrappers first baseman Fernando Pacheco said. "I can't believe we did it."
Believe it. This weekend, the Scrappers will play for the New York-Penn League championship.
Left-hander Tony Sipp pitched another stellar road game and Argenis Reyes continued his offensive onslaught as the Scrappers defeated Auburn 7-3 Tuesday to sweep the best-of-3 series.
"Anything's possible in a short series, so it was huge Monday night to win at home," Scrappers manager Mike Sarbaugh said of his team's 4-3 victory in Game 1. "If we didn't win Monday night, we were going to have a tough time."
Mahoning Valley will be put in a similar situation for the league championship series, which begins Friday at Eastwood Field. The Scrappers will play host to Brooklyn or Tri-City, whose series is tied at one game apiece.
"At the beginning of the season, we were a little shaky because we didn't know each other," said Pacheco, who singled three times Tuesday. "We put the pieces together."
Mahoning Valley didn't need a decisive third game in its series against the Pinckney Division champion Doubledays.
Sipp and Reyes made sure of that.
"He got out of some situations where he could have gotten hurt," Sarbaugh said of Sipp. "He got some big outs for us. I'm sure he had a little confidence going in, and it showed."
A former standout at Clemson University, Sipp had already beaten Auburn in its home park last month.
Tuesday, he did it again -- even after the game's start was delayed 31 minutes by rain.
"In the back of my head, I thought I had a little edge on them," said Sipp, who allowed two runs on two hits in five innings.
"I used that to my advantage," he added of his strong start in August. "If I could get ahead early, that would keep them on their toes and what I did last time would maybe stick in their heads."
Sipp was strong long enough for the Scrappers' offense, led by Reyes, to do its part.
At a generous listing of 5-feet-10 and 160 pounds, Reyes gave the Scrappers a 3-0 lead with an RBI single in the second inning and a two-run single in the fourth. He finished with three hits and also scored twice.
Chris Gimenez added three RBIs for the Scrappers, who advanced to their first championship series since the 2000 season when they lost to Staten Island.
Tuesday, it took beating the league's best team in its own backyard and before hundreds of raucous fans.
"I didn't care about who won what or anything," Pacheco said of the Doubledays' success. "I took it as this was my last game and I gave it my all."
The Scrappers' bullpen, shaky at times this season, protected the lead in the late innings, with Scott Roehl, Roger Lincoln and Matt Knox handling the Doubledays.
"They can score runs in bunches -- they've done it all year and they've done it to us before," Sarbaugh said of Auburn. "Your lead is never comfortable, especially at this park where they play so well."
Reyes cf5233Mathews cf3110
Finegan ss5121Klosterman ss4011
Gimenez 3b4013Nielsen rf4001
Butia dh3000Hall 2b2111
Toregas c5000Lind lf4000
Montgomery lf5110Metropls 1b4000
Parker 2b4220Mangioni dh2000
Pacheco 1b5030Cannon ph/dh1000
Encarnacion rf3100Corrente c4000
E--Hall, Armstrong, Toregas, Klosterman. DP--Auburn 1. LOB--Scrappers 10, Auburn 6. HR--Hall. 2B--Parker, Finegan, Klosterman. SF--Gimenez. Reached on CI - Armstrong.
Sipp W, 1-0522036
Jackson L, 0-13 1-375514
CI--Toregas. Umpires--Home, Tom Clarke; First, Howard Perez; Second, Phil Mulroe; Third, Vic Carapazza. T--2:53. A--1,489.
HOW THEY SCORED
MAHONING VALLEY 1, AUBURN 0
Scrappers: Zachary Jackson pitching. Tim Montgomery flied out to center. Brett Parker singled up the middle, Fernando Pacheco singled to left, Parker to second. Teo Encarnacion struck out. Argenis Reyes singled to left, Parker scored, Pacheco to second. Brian Finegan struck out. 1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.
AUBURN 2, MAHONING VALLEY 1
Doubledays: Tony Sipp pitching. David Corrente struck out. Jason Armstrong reached on catcher's interference, Aaron Mathews singled to right, Armstrong to second. Ryan Klosterman doubled to right, Armstrong scored, Mathews to third. Eric Nielsen grounded out to second, Mathews scored, Klosterman to third. Brian Hall struck out. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 5, AUBURN 2
Scrappers: Jackson pitching. Montgomery singled to left, Parker doubled to left, Montgomery to third. Pacheco struck out. Encarnacion walked to load the bases. Reyes singled to right center, Montgomery, Parker scored, Encarnacion to third. Finegan singled to left, Encarnacion scored, Reyes to third. Joey McLaughlin in to pitch. Chris Gimenez flied out to center to sacrifice Reyes home, Finegan to second. Mike Butia walked intentionally, Wyatt Toregas hit into a fielder's choice, Butia out at second. 4 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 2 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 7, AUBURN 2
Scrappers: McLaughlin pitching. Reyes singled to right, Finegan reached on an error by the third baseman, Reyes to third, Finegan to second. Gimenez singled to left, Reyes, Finegan scored. Chi-hung Cheng in to pitch. Gimenez caught stealing second. Butia struck out. Toregas grounded out to third. 2 runs, 2 hits, 1 error, 0 left.
MAHONING VALLEY 7, AUBURN 3
Doubledays: Scott Roehl pitching. Nielsen grounded out to the pitcher. Hall homered over the left-field wall. Roger Lincoln in to pitch. Adam Lind struck out. Joey Metropoulos flied out to center. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left.