Mahoning Valley (10-10) has won four of its last five games.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES — On a beautiful 80-degree night, Mahoning Valley Scrappers pitcher Daniel Morales looked down at his teal jersey with the palm tree on his shoulder, listened to the beach music and was reminded of Hawaii.
“Sort of a tropical theme,” he said. “Feels like home.”
When he’s back in his hometown of Waianai, Hawaii, Morales goes to the beach two or three times a day — he lives less than a mile away from the Pacific Ocean — to enjoy the sun, boogie-board on the water and — this is true — strum away on his ukulele while sitting on the sand.
He’s definitely experienced a change in attitude and in latitude over the past month, but on Jimmy Buffett night, you couldn’t notice.
“The weather’s been really nice here,” he said. “My host family has a palm tree in their backyard, but I don’t think there’s any coconuts growing on it.”
Morales pitched a scoreless eighth inning as four Scrappers pitchers combined on a seven-hitter Sunday night, helping Mahoning Valley defeat Lowell 4-1 in a New York-Penn League game in front of 4,046 fans at Eastwood Field.
The fans were treated to a postgame fireworks show accompanied by the sort of music beloved by “Parrotheads.”
Alas, Morales isn’t one of them.
“Not so much,” he said, when asked if he’s a Buffett fan. “But the stuff they were playing out here sounded pretty good.”
Morales, who is one of two Hawaiian natives on the Scrappers (pitcher Mark Rodrigues is from Kayai), played college ball at the University of San Francisco, where he was a terrific defensive catcher and part-time pitcher.
The Indians drafted the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder in the 14th round of last month’s draft, opting to develop him as a pitcher full-time. He’s 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA in five appearances for the Scrappers this summer, giving up eight hits while striking out seven in 9 2/3 innings.
No stranger to Midwest
Although he’s spent most of his life on the West Coast, he played summer ball in places like Wisconsin and Virginia, so he’s no stranger to this part of the country.
“The people here have been really nice,” he said. “I think because there’s so much open land, there’s a more relaxed feel here [in the midwest]. It’s not so cramped.
“I’ve really enjoyed it so far.”
Outfielder Matt Brown isn’t a Buffett fan, either, but he seemed to enjoy the night all the same, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored to lead Mahoning Valley (10-10), which has won four of its last five games.
The Scrappers play their final game of the six-game homestand tonight, then play the next six on the road.
“We’ve just got to come out every day and play the game the right way,” said Brown. “Try and do the little things right.”
Cristo Arnal, batting from the No. 9 hole, went 2-for-3 with a double for the Scrappers, while Jansy Infante had an RBI and scored a run.
William Delage started and went four innings for Mahoning Valley, giving up one run on four hits while striking out seven and walking two.
Joanniel Montero (2-1) pitched three shutout innings to get the win, surrendering two hits and striking out one. Kyle Landis picked up his first save of the year with a scoreless ninth.
The only downside came on defense. The Scrappers committed three errors.
“We’ve got a lot of guys still learning new positions and that takes time,” said Scrappers manager Tim Laker. “The defense hasn’t been as good as we would have liked but we just need to focus on the fundamentals from this point, catching and throwing the ball well.”
Joseph Guerra (0-2) gave up two runs in five innings to get the loss for the Spinners (12-7), who are in first place in the Stedler Division despite two straight losses to the Scrappers.
Ty Weeden, Yamaico Navarro and Michael Jones each added two hits in the loss.
Kalish cf5010Thompson ss3000
Vasquez 2b4000Infante 2b4111
Jiminez 3b4000Castillo c3110
Frnndz-Oliva lf4000Martin 1b4011
Jones 1b4020Brown cf-rf4121
Navarro ss4120Jenkins lf4011
Weeden dh4021Valdes cf0000
Cabreja rf2000Flores dh4010
Vazquez c3000Douglas rf-lf2100
E—Castillo (1), Arnal (3), Thompson (7). DP—Lowell 1. LOB—Lowell 10, Scrappers 6. 2B—Weeden (4), Navarro (4), Arnal (3), Brown (7), Jenkins (3), SB—Vasquez (4), Navarro (5), Infante 2 (2), Douglas (1). CS—Vasquez (2). S—Vasquez.
J. Guerra L, 0-2572202
J. Montero W, 2-1320001
Landis S, 1100011
WP—Craft, Delage 2. Umpires—Home, Shea Gipson; Bases, Matt Neuhold. T—2:45. A—4, 046.
HOW THEY SCORED
Jammers 2nd — Jones strikes out looking. Navarro singles to center. With Weeden batting, Navarro steals 2nd. With Weeden batting, Navarro to 3rd on wild pitch. Weeden doubles to center, Navarro scores. Cabreja strikes out swinging. Vasquez walks. Kalish strikes out swinging. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Scrappers 4th — Infante singles to right. With Castill batting, Infante steals 2nd. Castillo singles to left, Infante to 3rd. Martin singles to right, Infante scores, Castillo to 3rd. Brown singles to right, Martin to 3rd, Brown out at 2nd on throw (9-6). Jenkins grounds out (1-3). Flores grounds out (6-3). 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Scrappers 6th — Castilo flies out (F-9). Martin strikes out looking. Brown doubles to left. Jenkins doubles to right, Brown scores. Flores flies out (F-8).
Scrappers 7th — Douglas walks. With Arnal batting, Douglas steals 2nd. Arnal pops out (F-4). With Thompson batting, Douglas to 3rd on wild pitch. Thompson walks. Infante grounds into fielder’s choice (6-4), Douglas scores. With Castillo batting, Infante steals 2nd. Castillo walks. Martin grounds into fielder’s choice (4-6). 1 run, 0 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB.