SCRAPPERS Team's skipper has good reason to pace
Manager Mike Sarbaugh's wife is expecting their third child.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- Baseball season and babies -- for Mike Sarbaugh, they go hand in hand.
As the Mahoning Valley Scrappers await the New York-Penn League championship series, Sarbaugh, the manager, is keeping an ear open to the east.
Resting in Reading, Pa., is his wife, Nicole, who is pregnant with their third child, due Oct. 1.
"All of our kids have been born during baseball season, so this is kind of old hat," Sarbaugh, 37, laughed. "Hopefully we can hold off."
Nicole Sarbaugh spent much of the baseball season in the Valley, but she returned home to family in Pennsylvania after several episodes of early contractions.
Asked how much his mind has wandered from baseball, Sarbaugh said, "A little bit, but I know we have to take care of business here. It's part of the game."
Sarbaugh, a coach with the Akron Aeros for the past four seasons, was present for the births of sons Michael (4) and Matthew (2).
And he doesn't plan to miss the birth of his third child, even if inclement weather has delayed Game 1 of the championship series.
"I just hope it's not Game 3 and I have to leave," Sarbaugh said. "But if it does happen, I'm gone."
Rest and relaxation
The Scrappers (42-34) should have an advantage when the championship series finally begins at Eastwood Field -- they've had plenty of time to rest.
"Rest is good," Sarbaugh said, "but you don't want to sit too long, especially at this part of the year."
And especially with the Scrappers riding a wave of momentum, winning 13 of their past 16 games to reach the title series.
"We've been playing some good baseball the last couple weeks," Sarbaugh said. "Our bullpen's been solid, our starting pitching's been great and we're playing good defense, so that's a good combination."
But because remnants of Hurricane Frances interrupted the other best-of-3 semifinal series, Brooklyn (43-31) and Tri-City (50-25) haven't been able to complete their decisive third game.
Meanwhile, the Scrappers have been off since completing a two-game sweep of Auburn in the semifinal series Tuesday.
"That's the most frustrating part -- we've been sitting around and waiting," Scrappers general manager Dave Smith said.
"We're playing our best ball of the year, and you don't want to be sitting here for five days."
The Scrappers have reached the championship series for the first time since 2000 when, under manager Ted Kubiak, they lost to Staten Island in three games.
Kubiak also led Mahoning Valley to the title series in 1999, the team's inaugural season, but it lost in three games to Hudson Valley.
Now comes a third opportunity for the Scrappers to claim their first league championship. It's just a matter of when.