The Mahoning Valley Scrappers lived up to their nickname in beating the Pinckney Division-leading Auburn Doubledays, 7-6, Tuesday night at Eastwood Field.
After taking a 4-0, the Scrappers fell behind, 5-4, then bounced back for a 7-5 lead before hanging on in the final four innings.
Outfielders Bryson Myles, Cody Elliott and Jordan Smith played important roles including Elliott’s over-the-shoulder catch in center field that robbed Auburn’s Billy Burns of a potentially juicy hit after the Doubledays’ three-run fifth inning.
The Scrappers (35-28) had only six hits to Auburn’s 11, but the home team managed to stay steady otherwise to pull within 3 games of Auburn (38-25) and 1 1/2 of Williamsport in the wild-card race.
Each team had one error.
“Whenever you play against a team like Auburn, you have to come with your ‘A’ game,” said Myles, Mahoning Valley’s left fielder. “If you don’t play your best in one aspect, then you have to pick yourself up in another aspect and that’s what we did.
“Defensively, I made an error that cost us a run [Auburn’s sixth]. But our pitchers came out and picked me up right there and we got out of the inning with minimal damage. But, against a tough team like this, you’re going to struggle some nights, offensively, so you’ve got to take care of the game, defensively and on the mound.”
In place of Dave Wallace who was on an assignment, Tony Mansolino was the Scrappers’ substitute manager.
Mansolino, normally the hitting coach, also gave credit to the outfield.
“We’ve got a lot of speed out there. We don’t have a whole lot of big guys, but a lot of our guys are athletic and can move, so defense is a big part of the game plan every night.”
Mansolino wanted to correct the perception about Mahoning Valley’s lack of offense.
“It’s been a funny thing because I think, as a team, we’re second or third in the league in runs scored. A lot of times it doesn’t seem like we’re doing a whole lot, but, between walks or putting the ball in play with two strikes, we’re kind of chipping away at it, which is what you’ve got to do when you’re not a power-based team. I don’t think people have recognized it, but, as a whole, we’re scoring runs. It might not be doubles and home runs, but it happens between walks, stolen bases and singles.”
Scrappers’ leadoff batter Bryson Myles singled, then stole second before scoring on Tony Wolters’ single. Jake Lowery’s groundout to first allowed Wolters to reach third. With one out, Wolters scored on Jordan Smith’s groundout before Todd Hankins struck out to end the first inning with Mahoning Valley ahead, 2-0.
K.C. Serna singled to open the Scrappers’ third. Myles then walked before Wolters flied out.
Mahoning Valley loaded the bases when Serna and Myles advanced on a throwing error.
Serna scored on Smith’s groundout to first to put the Scrappers ahead, 3-0. Myles scored Mahoning Valley’s fourth run when the throw from third on a grounder off the bat of Hankins was late. McPhee’s walk loaded the bases, again, but Lavisky struck out to end the inning.