A five-game series will begin Friday in Auburn.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- If the Mahoning Valley Scrappers do not return to the New York-Penn League playoffs this season, they can look back on Sunday's disappointing loss to the Auburn Doubledays as one of the primary reasons.
The Doubledays scored four runs in the top of the ninth to wipe out a two-run deficit and then held off the Scrappers 9-8 at Eastwood Field.
The Scrappers (31-34) trail the first-place Doubledays (36-29) by five games in the NYPL's Pinckney Division standings with just 11 games to play.
Mahoning Valley does have a five-game series in Auburn beginning Friday.
"We're trying to chase them; we're battling for the playoffs," Scrappers manager Rouglas Odor said. "If we go out and give a good effort, that's all I can ask."
If Sunday's setback does prove to be the single catalyst that prevented the Scrappers from defending their NYPL's title, the nine-game home stand they just concluded also contributed.
The Scrappers are only 14-21 at home this season and they scored just 37 runs in the home stand where they went 2-7.
Although there were some individual bright spots, there was plenty of blame for the emotional loss that featured more drama than many soap operas.
Matt Miller, who's made 23 appearances with the Cleveland Indians (1-0 record, 1.82 ERA) started for the Scrappers on a rehab appearance.
He lasted just 20 pitches, exiting with a 4-0 deficit after issuing five singles.
"Today was his first outing in a while," Odor said. "It's just a matter of him getting back on track and staying healthy."
The game got dicey in the top of the second inning when an Auburn baserunner was picked off first base by the third Scrappers pitcher.
Doubleday manager Dennis Holmberg disagreed and was ejected following a lengthy debate. After a perfunctory kicking of dirt on the umpire's shoes, Holmberg took the walk of shame.
Auburn scored just one run in the middle seven innings and led 5-2 after six full innings.
Then, the Scrappers scored four runs in an improbable seventh inning to assume the lead.
Despite a shortage of many long-ball threats, the Scrappers got creative and scored four runs on just two hits.
They did bundle three walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch into six baserunners against three Auburn pitchers in the big frame.
"We have to take advantage of that," Odor said of his team's manufacturing runs.
"Any time we get runners on base we have to find ways to continue getting on base and putting up quality at-bats, which we did. Especially late in the game."
The Scrappers continued with their ebb and flow ride, scoring again in the eighth for a 7-5 lead.
That run came as a result of a throwing error, a hit batter (Auburn's third) and an RBI single by Mike Woodson.
"We had a great opportunity to win the ball game in the last innings,", Odor said.
"They kept putting a lot of pressure [on Auburn] throughout the whole game."
Dustin Roddy (3-3) came on to pitch the ninth for Mahoning Valley and allowed a two-run homer, a two-run double and three singles.
The Scrappers closed the final gap on Evandy De Leon's 355-foot homer to left, his fourth home run this year.
He added a double and three RBIs while seven other Scrappers each had a hit.
Shoffit 2b5230Constanza lf3110
Acey 3b4010Mortensen lf1000
Patton rf4212De Leon rf4223
Parrerson cf5332Fornasiere 2b4011
Mtropoulos dh5221Hiser dh5011
Butler lf5023Lytle 1b5010
Thomas 1b5031Clem 3b5210
Bell c5000Thomas cf3110
Sena ss4000Woodson c3111
E--Sena. DP--Auburn 1. LOB--Auburn 7; Scrappers 7. 2B--Butler, De Leon. HR--Patton (12), Patterson (12), De Leon (4). CS--Acey.
Carnline W, 4-0210111
Phillips S, 10112300
Roddy L, 3-31-344500
Trias pitched to 2 batters in the 7th. Stidfole pitched to 3 batters in the 7th. WP--Trias, Stidfole. HBP--by Trias (De Leon), by Stidfole (Constanza), by Carnline (Thomas), by Miller (Acey). Umpires--Home, Drew Ashcraft; First, Adam Harrel. T--2:56. A--3,437.