By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- If the Mahoning Valley Scrappers win their final four regular-season games and somehow qualify for the New York-Penn League playoffs, there's good news for college football fans.
The NYPL playoffs open Saturday at the homes of the wild-card team and the division winner with the third-best record. So if the Scrappers get in as a wild card or the Pinckney Division champion, they will be home on Saturday.
And if that's the case, Jim Riley, the Scrappers assistant general manager, says the Scrappers' playoff game would begin at 1 p.m. because the Ohio State-Texas football game kicks off at 8 p.m.
First, the Scrappers (38-34) must extend their four-game win streak as they are in Williamsport, Pa., tonight and Tuesday to play the last-place Crosscutters (26-45).
A loss against the Crosscutters means the Auburn Doubledays (40-30) or the State College Spikes (35-34) will win the division. The Spikes must win their five remaining games and see the Doubledays lose four for a tie.
The Scrappers close the regular season on Wednesday and Thursday at Auburn.
The Scrappers and Spikes also are alive in the wild-card race, but trail Aberdeen (40-31), Oneonta (37-33) and Brooklyn (37-32). Overcoming all three is unlikely.
The Scrappers finished their home season Sunday with a doubleheader sweep of the Spikes (2-0 and 3-2). They are 25-13 at Eastwood Field.
"We have a good fan base," shortstop Josh Rodriguez said. "It seems we get about 3,000 a night. They're into the games, always supportive and this is a nice ballpark, it's fun to play here."
Manager Rouglas Odor said, "Hopefully we can come back and show the fans a couple of more games here."
The key for the Scrappers, Odor said, will be to not look past the Crosscutters or worry about the Spikes, who play a doubleheader today against the Batavia Muckdogs.
"You have to approach [this week] as one game at a time, one pitch at a time, one at-bat," Odor said. "It's hard. Sometimes [young players] want to get three or four hits in one at-bat. It's impossible, so they need to take it one at a time."
Rodriguez, whose five hits in Sunday's twinbill included two homers and two doubles, was surprised he did so well on the very overcast, cool day.
"Getting up pretty early the way the weather was, it was hard to get my hands going, but it started to warm up and I was seeing the ball pretty well," Rodriguez said.