Lowell committed four errors, including two big ones in the eighth.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES — It might not have been the prettiest victory the Mahoning Valley Scrappers have had this season, but it certainly was a big one.
The Scrappers, who rallied from a 4-0 deficit, scored six runs over their final four at-bats and pulled out a 6-4 victory over the Lowell Spinners in their series opener before 4,154 fans at Eastwood Field.
Mahoning Valley (9-10) took advantage of four Lowell errors, including two big ones in the eighth inning, when the Scrappers scored the winning runs.
Lowell’s Carlos Fernandez-Oliva dropped a routine fly ball in left field with two outs and runners on second and third to allow the Scrappers to score the winning runs.
“Yes, we got some help tonight, but we still had to get those runners into scoring position and that’s what I’m pleased about,” said Scrappers manager Tim Laker.
“We made some early mistakes and got ourselves into a hole, but they battled back and put themselves right back in the game,” Laker added.
One of the big guns for the Scrappers was shortstop Mark Thompson, who had three hits in four trips to the plate after entering the game with a .170 batting average.
His double in the eighth, down the left field line, put runners on second and third and set up the winning runs on Fernandez-Oliva’s error.
Alex Castillo hit the fly ball to left that Fernandez-Oliva was under and waiting for when the ball just bounced off his glove and rolled away.
Thompson said that he’s been doing some work in the batting cages to try and straighten things out at the plate.
The rookie out of Lewis-Clark State College also had a couple of errors, one on the first play of the game when he fired the ball into the stands that led to Lowell’s first run of the game.
“I’ve been working hard in the cages with the coaches on my hitting and things just seem to come around tonight,” he said. “I’m glad I was able to get some clutch hits after those two errors.
“I just tried to rush that first [throw] and it really got away from me,” he added.
Starting pitcher Heath Taylor pitched 32⁄3 innings and although he was responsible for three runs, none of them were earned.
Garrett Rieck (2-0) picked up the victory in relief, tossing two hitless and scoreless innings, while closer Vince Pestrano recorded his third save of the year.
The Scrappers scored twice in the fifth on two singles by Jeff Hehr and Thompson and a Lowell error, then added two more in the seven when they had four singles, three straight by Juan Valdes, Cristo Arnal and Alex Castillo to load the bases and then Matt Brown followed with a two run single.
In the eighth with one out, Mike Valadez reached on an error and Thompson doubled him to third. Valdes was intentionally walked to load the bases and reliever Felix Ventura struck out pinch hitter Jansy Infante.
Castillo then hit a solid fly ball into left and Fernandez-Oliva made winners out of the Scrappers.
The Scrappers finished with 11 hits. Besides Thompson’s three, Hehr had two in his third starting assignment since he injured his leg, and Brown also had two.
“Jeff [Hehr] still isn’t 100 percent and I told him that if he got on base in the fifth that I’d probably pinch run for him,” Laker said.
After Arnal scored on a short sacrifice fly for the second run, Laker said Hehr came up to him and said “good move coach; I’d have never made it.”
The two teams will play the second game of the three-game series tonight at 6:05 at Eastwood Field.
Kalish cf5100Valdes cf4110
Vasquez 2b5112Hehr 2b3020
Jimenez 3b3011Arnal pr-2b1210
Frnndz-Oliva lf 4031Infante ph-2b1000
Jones 1b 4010Castillo dh5010
Navarro ss 4000Martin 1b3011
Weeden c4000Brown rf4022
Lewis dh4110Alvarado lf4000
Cabreja rf 3110Petrucci 3b4000
E—Kalish (2), Navarro (3), Vasquez (4), Fernandez-Oliva (2), Thompson 2 (6), Petrucci (7). LOB—Lowell 7, Scrappers 10. 2B—Vasquez (3), Thompson (1). CS—Kalish (1). SF—Martin.
Mills L, 1-12 1-354213
Rieck W, 2-0200002
Pestano S, 3100001
WP—Taylor. Umpires—Home, Matt Neuhold; Bases, Shea Gipson. T—2:35. A—4,154.
HOW THEY SCORED
Spinners 1st — Kalish reaches on error by SS (Thompson), to second on throw into stands; Vasquez strikes out; Jimenez grounds out (3-unassisted), Kalish to third; Fernandez-Oliva singles to center, Kalish scores; Jones flies out (F8). 1 run, 1 hit, 1 errors, 1 LOB.
Spinners 4th — Weeden strikes out looking, Lewis reaches on throwing error by 3B (Petrucci), took second on throw; Cabreja walked; Kalish strikes out swinging; Vasquez doubles down left field line, Lewis scoring, Cabreja scoring; Jimenez singles to center, Vasquez scoring, Jimenez out at second (9-2-6). 3 runs, 2 hits, 1 errors, 0 LOB.
Scrappers 5th — Thompson singles to left. Valdes strikes out looking; Hehr singles to center, Thompson to third; Thompson scores on error by CF, Hehr to second; Castillo reaches on error at SS, Hehr to third; Cristo Arnal pinch run for Hehr; Martin flies out F7, Arnal scores; Brown grounds out (4-3). 2 runs, 2 hits, 2 errors, 1 LOB.
Scrappers 7th — Thompson flies out (F9); Valdes singles to left; Arnal infield single, Valdes to second; Castillo singles to left, Valdes to third, Arnal to second; Martin strikes out swinging; Brown singles to center, Valdes scores, Arnal scores, Castillo to third, Brown to second on throw home; Alvarado strikes out swinging. 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB.
Scrappers 8th — Petrucci grounds out (5-3); Valadez reaches on error at 2B; Thompson doubles to left, Valadez to third; Valdes walks; Infante strikes out swinging; Castillo reaches on error in left, Valadez scores, Thompson scores; Martin flies out (f9); 2 runs, 1 hit, 2 errors, 1 LOB.