By Jon Moffett
In 1999, Mahoning Valley Scrappers manager David Wallace was, as he put it, getting his brains beaten in as the quarterback of the Vanderbilt University football team.
“That was in my football years, so there are good and bad memories there,” the first-year manager joked.
Many of the Scrappers players were just teenagers that year, which was the inaugural season for the team. On Wednesday, the team honored its first season with throwback uniforms. But Wallace isn’t concerned about last night. He’s only focused on today — and maybe peeking a little bit at tomorrow.
That’s why a 6-5 loss to the Auburn Doubledays at Eastwood Field didn’t have him fighting mad. Still, a give-away loss like Wednesday’s in the middle of a postseason hunt is a little frustrating.
Especially since the Scrappers (35-29) led early and let the Doubledays (39-25) claw their way back.
The most hair-pulling moment came in the top of the seventh. Up 5-4, the Scrappers made a boneheaded error to allow the tying run to cross the plate. Right fielder Aaron Siliga threw the ball past shortstop Tony Wolters on a double by Auburn’s Justin Miller. The errant throw allowed Matt Skole to score from second.
“I didn’t think we did a very good job of closing out the game,” Wallace said. “I thought the turning point of that game was the ball we threw away, which allowed them to tie it up. That was where the game went in a different direction.
“I give Auburn credit; they’re a good team,” Wallace added. “But the way I look at it, we beat ourselves tonight.”
Thanks to a loss by the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Scrappers remain 1 1/2 games out of the wild card spot in the New York-Penn League.
Wallace said it’s one of those things he and his players don’t talk about but know it in the back of their minds.
The Scrappers will again host the Doubledays today at 7:05 p.m.
The game’s original right fielder, Bryson Myles left the game shortly after fouling the first pitch of the game off of his foot. Myles singled, but was picked off first later in the inning. He was relieved by Siliga the next inning.
Wallace said the move was precautionary, and that the early outlook is good.
Though Wednesday’s game was not technically a designated fireworks night, there were some sparks.
Auburn pitching coach Franklin Bravo was ejected in the bottom of the second inning for arguing a call. Scrappers left fielder Jordan Barr hit a dying fly ball toward Auburn right fielder Angelberth Montilla, who dove and appeared to trap the ball against the turf. Scrappers center fielder Cody Elliott, who had singled earlier in the inning, advanced to second but the ball beat him to the bag.
Elliott was called safe and the infield umpire signaled that Montilla had caught the ball. Elliott never tagged up but remained on second. The Doubledays threw to first to appeal the call, but time had already been called. Manager Gary Cathcart argued Elliott too should have been out, but the call stood.
Bravo argued the call from the dugout for a few minutes before the home plate umpire suggested he watch the remainder of the game from the clubhouse. Bravo proceeded to walk slowly through the infield, delaying the game several minutes.