The Doubledays cut their deficit in the Pinckney Division to 11/2 games.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- Three two-run doubles and a stellar performance by Auburn's pitching staff were too much for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers to overcome in the latest showdown for Pinckney Division supremacy.
Despite a second consecutive sellout crowd at Eastwood Field, the first-place Scrappers' bats were tamed by the Doubledays' Robert Ray, Josh Sowers and Paul Phillips, who combined to toss a three-hitter in Friday's 7-1 victory.
Auburn (18-19) reduced the Scrappers' (20-18) division lead to 11/2 games.
"Every game is important," said Scrappers catcher Omar Casillas, who provided most of the Scrappers' limited offense. "They just hit some [solid] ground balls that found some holes. Stuff like that happens sometimes."
Casillas reached base three times -- on an error, a double and a single. He drove in the team's only run and stole a base.
For Auburn, Cory Patton's three hits included a double and he scored twice. Nick Thomas, Josh Bell and Anthony Garibaldi each contributed two-run doubles.
Ray (1-1) picked up the win after tossing six innings, allowing two hits and one run. He walked a batter and struck out five.
With the score deadlocked at 1-1 in the fifth inning, the Doubledays made the Scrappers pay for intentionally walking Ryan Patterson. The walk by losing pitcher Thomas Cowley (2-2) came after Patton's two-out double that bounced over the center-field fence.
Thomas doubled into the right-field corner to bring home Patton and Patterson for a 3-1 lead.
The Scrappers' pitching staff was in trouble early on as starter Joe Ness didn't last past the third inning.
Ness needed 30 pitches to get out of the second inning. Six of them came after second baseman Matt Fornasiere's error with two outs permitted Brian Pettway to score from second base to give the Doubledays a 1-0 lead.
"We didn't get that ground ball to get the end of the inning," Casillas said. "Joe was struggling with his fastball a little bit. But to throw that many pitches and give up only one run in that inning shows how good he really is. Joe kept his composure and kept on pitching."
The Scrappers tied the game in the fourth inning with their own two-out magic. After Trevor Mortensen walked and stole second base, he scored when Casillas doubled off the left-field wall.
The Doubledays threatened in the seventh inning when Scrappers reliever Nelson Hiraldo issued two walks and Matt Cooksey bunted his way on. But Hiraldo escaped when he retired Bell on a comebacker to the mound.
Ahead 3-1, Patton and Patterson singled to start off the four-run ninth inning against Josh Kite. They scored on Bell's double. After Pettway singled, he and Bell scored easily on Garibaldi's double into left-field corner.
This afternoon at 1:05 p.m., the Scrappers close out their three-game series with Auburn then travel to Vermont for a three-game set against the Expos.
Shoffit 2b4000Cnstanza cf4000
Cooksey cf4010Lytle ss4000
Patton rf5230Frnasiere 2b4010
Patterson lf4210Peterson 3b4000
Thomas 1b3022Mortensen lf3100
Celigoy pr/1b1000Casillas c3021
J. Bell c5122Cmbrbtch dh3000
Pettway dh5110De Leon rf3000
Sena pr0100Clark 1b2000
E--Garibaldi, Fornasiere, Peterson. DP--Auburn 1. LOB--Auburn 11, Scrappers 4. 2B--Patton, Thomas, J. Bell, Garibaldi, Casillas. SB--Garibaldi, Mortensen, Casillas.
Ray W, 1-1621115
Phillips S, 41 1-300001
Cowley L, 2-2322213
WP--Hiraldo. Umpires--Home, Bob Boyle; First, Mario Seneca. T--2:44. A--6,007.