By Steve Ruman
Last week, a fan at a Cleveland Browns preseason game made news when he streaked from one end of the field to the other, halting play. The streaker’s antics caused many fans to turn their heads in disgust and created a brief trend on social media.
Closer to home, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers have streaked their way through the 2013 season. And while the performance hasn’t caused a stir on Facebook or Twitter, the fans’ tolerance level surely was nearing a tipping point.
Along came Nellie Rodriguez to save the day.
On Thursday, Rodriguez capped a three-run ninth inning rally with a two-run home run, lifting the Scrappers to a 3-2 win over Jamestown in front of 3,338 fans at Eastwood Field.
The victory snapped the Scrappers’ latest lengthy losing streak, which was at six.
The Scrappers began July by losing a franchise-high 12 straight games.
“It felt good just to get a win, just to get the streak behind us,” Rodriguez said. “When you’re losing like we were, you try to do too much.
“Everyone tries to put the team on their shoulders and usually when you press bad things happen.”
For eight innings, it appeared as though the Scrappers were destined to record their seventh straight loss. They were shut out by a trio of Jammers pitchers while being limited to just three hits.
Scrappers batters struck out 11 times on the night and 33 times in the three-game series.
However, Scrappers leadoff hitter Joel Mejia opened the bottom of the ninth by drawing a walk. Following a strikeout by Claudio Bautista, James Roberts singled to center, scoring Mejia.
Rodriguez then ended the game and the losing streak by belting a screaming line drive over the left field wall. The first baseman leads the Scrappers in hitting (.295), RBI (34) and home runs (8).
“That was my first walk-off home run since I was a junior in high school,” Rodriguez said. “I kind of knew it was gone when it left the bat. I knew it was hit hard and it had the distance.”
Rodriguez said he was happy to help out a Mahoning Valley pitching staff which has suffered some tough-luck losses because of the year-long lack of a Scrappers offense.
“Our pitchers have had to battle through a lot,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve been pretty solid most of the year. They pitch some great games, but a lot of times we fail to pick them up.”
“They were strong tonight. They deserved this win.”
Dace Kime started for the Scrappers, and gave up one run on three hits.
Matt Whitehouse worked four innings, surrendering a run on just two hits.
Breily Puerta (3-4) worked the final two innings to pick up the win. Puerta didn’t allow a hit, and recorded three strikeouts.
The Scrappers continue their homestand tonight with a doubleheader against Batavia. The first game begins at 6:05 p.m.