Mahoning Valley loaded the bases in the ninth but managed just one run.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Mahoning Valley Scrappers' return to the site of their 2004 championship win wasn't quite as successful Wednesday night.
Once again the Scrappers' bullpen couldn't hold the lead and they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Tri-City Valleycats.
Scrappers starting pitcher Joe Ness threw five scoreless innings to open the contest, but after allowing the first two runners to reach in the sixth inning, reliever Mark Jecmen couldn't put out the fire and allowed the ValleyCats to take a 3-2 lead that they never relinquished.
The loss drops the Scrappers down to .500 at 11-11 in the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League, while Tri-City improved to 10-10 in the Stedler Division.
After four scoreless innings the Scrappers took the lead in the fifth.
With one out, Jose Chavez reached on a walk and Jose Constanza then tripled him home for the game's first run. It was Constanza's third triple of the season. Trevor Mortensen hit a grounder to short, but Constanza beat the throw home for the second run.
Ness, who was never in trouble for the first five innings, started the sixth and gave up back-to-back singles before the Scrappers brought in Jecmen.
He gave up a double to Patrick Stellers, the top hitter in the league, which scored one run. The second scored when Constanza's throw from centerfield was wild. The ValleyCats got the go-ahead run when Jecmen threw a wild pitch.
Tri-City added two more runs in the eighth inning on an error and a wild pitch, both by reliever Josh Kite.
Kite, with runners on first and second, tried a pickoff throw to first that was wild, allowing one run to score and the other runner to third. Kite then threw a wild pitch to score the final run.
Mahoning Valley came back in the top of the ninth and loaded the bases with nobody out. Pinch hitter Andy Lytle hit a sacrifice fly scoring Chris Clem, but Constanza struck out and Mortensen flied out to end the game.
The two teams will meet in the second game of the series tonight at 7 p.m.