Mahoning Valley stayed alive in the race for the Pinckney Division title.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- Powered by shortstop Josh Rodriguez's bat, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers did everything they could Sunday to remain alive in the postseason chase.
But despite a doubleheader sweep of the State College Spikes that pretty much eliminated their opponent from the Pinckney Division race, the Scrappers were unable to slice into the Auburn Doubledays' lead.
The Doubledays (40-30) also won a twinbill, taking two from Williamsport to remain three games ahead of the Scrappers (38-34).
With both teams having four games to play through Thursday, the Scrappers' backs are against the wall if they want to play on Saturday.
But they are alive, thanks to a four-game winning streak.
"The way the race is right now, it seems it might come down possibly to the last two games [at Auburn]," said Rodriguez who went five-for-six in the doubleheader with four extra-base hits. "The sweep was big."
So was Rodriguez's bat.
In the Scrappers' 2-0 win in the opener, Rodriguez hit a one-out double to move Adam Davis to third base where he scored on Matt McBride's sacrifice fly.
In the fifth inning, Rodriguez hit a solo homer.
In the Scrappers' 3-2 victory, Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the first inning and doubled in the third.
Davis scored the Scrappers' third run after his leadoff triple in the third inning. Andy Lytle's sacrifice fly brought Davis home.
Spikes almost eliminated
The Spikes (35-34) are all but out of the division race. (The best they can finish is 40-34).
Because Auburn has two postponed games that won't be made up, the Doubledays will play at most 74 regular-season games. With 72 games in the books, the Scrappers could finish with 76 games played.
The New York-Penn League uses percentage points to determine division champions. If the Scrappers finish with one more win and one more loss than the Doubledays, Auburn would win the title because of a higher winning percentage.
Need to win final four
Thus this challenge. The only way the Scrappers can win the Pinckney is to win their final four and hope for help when Auburn plays Jamestown tonight and Tuesday. The Scrappers close the season with two at Williamsport and two at Auburn.
"If you look too far ahead, teams like Williamsport who are having a bad year can come up and bite you," said Rodriguez, who said the Scrappers must take it "one game at a time and play the same ball we've been playing. Hopefully we get those two wins before we go to Auburn."
David Huff, the Indians' top draft pick in the June draft, pitched the first two innings of the opener. He escaped a first inning bases-loaded jam by getting Luke Gorsett to hit an infield popout.
Huff allowed one hit but walked three in facing 10 batters.
Winning pitcher Jorge Riera (2-0) pitched four innings, allowing two hits and two walks, and striking out three. Closer Neil Wagner struck out the side in the seventh inning to earn his 16th save.
In the second game, starter Mike Eisenberg (3-1) went five innings, allowing a two-run homer by Matt Wilkerson in the fourth inning.
Kyle Collina and Hart Hering combined to pitch two scoreless innings, with Hering getting his second save.
"They did a solid job," Odor said of his pitchers. "Huff struggled in the first inning, but came back better in the second. Riera was just pounding the strike zone. He was challenging everybody and mixing all his pitches well.
"Eisenberg made a mistake but we were winning by three," Odor said. "Collina came in and threw the ball hard. It was great to see the way everybody threw the ball."
Rappaport cf4000Denham dh2000
Solano ss2010Davis 2b3110
Van Slyke 1b3010Rodriguez3131
Southard lf1000McBride c2001
Thomas dh 2000Realini 3b3010
Gorsett rf3000Lytle 1b3000
Salazar 2b3000Douglas cf2010
Gonzalez c2010Cumberbch rf2000
Sandoval ss3000Montero lf2010
E--None. DP--State College 1, Scrappers 0. LOB--State College 7, Scrappers 4. 2B--Gonzalez (2), Rodriguez (9). HR--Rodriguez (3). SB--Douglas (8). CS--Montero (3). SF--McBride.
Herron L, 0-1672231
Riera W, 2-0420023Wagner S, 16100003
WP--Riera. Umpires--Home, Jon Saphire; First, Patrick Barbour. T--1:53.
HOW THEY SCORED
Scrappers 3rd -- Jason Denham struck out. Adam Davis singled to left field. Josh Rodriguez hit a ground-rule double to left, Davis moving to third base. Matt McBride hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Davis and sending Rodriguez to third. Dustin Realini grounded out to third baseman Donovan Solano. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB. Scrappers 1, Spikes 0.
Scrappers 6th -- Josh Rodriguez homered over the left-field fence. McBride grounded out to Solano. Realini singled to left field. Andy Lytle hit a ground ball to second baseman Jose Salazar who coverted a double play with shortstop William Sandoval and first baseman A.J. Van Slyke. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB. Scrappers 2, Spikes 0.
Sandoval ss 3010Davis 2b3110
Solano 3b3000Lytle 1b2111
Van Slyke DH4110McBride dh3000
Wilkerson 1b 3122Realini 3b3000
Schweitzer 2b3000Roberts rf3000
Gorsett rf1000De Leon cf1000
Carpenter c3010Edmundson c2000
Sivira cf3000Thomas lf2000
E--Sandoval (11), Rodriguez 2 (10). DP--None. LOB--State College 8, Scrappers 3. 2B-- Rodriguez (9). 3B--Davis (5). HR--Rodriguez (4). SB--None. CS--None. SF--Lytle.
Lane L, 3-3643314
Eisenberg W, 3-1542203
Collina H, 211/310000
Hering S, 22/300001
WP--None. HBP--Gorsett (by Eisenberg) Gorsett (by Eisenberg), Sandoval (by Eisenberg). Umpires--Home, Patrick Barbour; First, Jon Saphire. T--1:38. A--3,038.
HOW THEY SCORED
Scrappers 1st -- Adam Davis struck out. Andy Lytle beat out an infield single. Josh Rodriguez homered over the left-field fence, scoring Davis. Matt McBride grounded out to third baseman Donovan Solano. Dustin Realini popped out to Solano. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB. Scrappers 2, Spikes 0.
Scrappers 3rd -- Brent Thomas struck out. Davis tripled into the right-field corner. Lytle hit a sacrifice fly to center fielder Yonathan Sivira, scoring Davis. Rodriguez doubled to left field. McBride reached on an error by shortstop William Sandoval, sending McBride to third. Realini hit a fielder's choice to Solano.1 run, 2 hits, 1 error, 2 LOB. Scrappers 3, Spikes 0.
Spikes 4th -- A.J. Van Slyke singled to right field. Matt Wilkerson homered over the right-field fence. Jared Schweitzer grounded out to second baseman Davis. Luke Gorsett was hit by a pitch. David Carpenter singled to right field, sending Gorsett to second. Sivira grounded out to shortstop Rodriguez, sending Gorsett to third and Sivira to second. Sandoval was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Solano grounded out to Rodriguez. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB. Scrappers 3, Spikes 2.