By PETE MOLLICA
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers pitchers allowed just four hits over nine innings Tuesday night, but the last one in the top of the ninth just happened to be a two-run home run as the Scrappers fell to the Auburn Doubledays 3-1 at Eastwood Field.
But still the Scrappers almost pulled out the New York-Penn League victory in the bottom of the ninth as they loaded the bases with two outs and Carlos Moncrief sent a screeching liner down the left field line which was foul by inches and would have cleared the bases and given them the victory.
“The umpire said it was foul by 6 inches,” said Scrappers manager Travis Fryman. “I know it was close and Carlos made a great swing on the ball. He struggled tonight at the plate, but I know that he wanted to be up there in that situation and he almost pulled it off.”
Once again the Scrappers had trouble offensively, getting six hits, but scoring just one run and that came without them getting a hit in the fourth inning.
The pitching was good as starter Michael Goodnight went five innings and allowed just one hit, while striking out six batters. J.D. Reichenbach (1-3) took the loss as he gave up the two-run homer to Lance Durham in the top of the ninth.
“We’re have a lot of trouble scoring runs which means that we are asking our pitching staff to be nearly perfect out there every night and that’s just not going to happen at this level,” Fryman said.
The Scrappers took the lead in the fourth inning when with two outs, Kevin Rucker walked and Moises Montero hit a fly ball to left field which was misjudged by left fielder Yeico Aponte and Rucker came all the way around to score.
The Doubledays tied the contest in the sixth inning off reliever J.D. Goryl who gave up a lead off double to Jon Fernandez. Fernandez reached third on a error by third baseman Giovanny Urshela and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Steve McQuail.
Pitching dominated the next few innings although the Scrappers did get a runner to third when Jesus Aguilar doubled with two outs and went to third on a balk, but never got any further.
In the top of the ninth Reichenbach struck out the first batter he faced, then walked Carlos Perez. Durham then ripped a pitch over the right-field wall that proved to be the game winner.
In the bottom of the ninth Mahoning Valley opened with back-to-back singles by Rucker and Montero. Aaron Field then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. After Trent Baker struck out, Nick Bartolone walked to load the bases.
Moncrief, who had struck out three times earlier in the game, then lined the shot down the left field line which would have easily cleared the bases. After it was ruled foul, Moncrief struck out for the fourth time to end the game.