By Steve Ruman
Because of a rainout on Wednesday, Mahoning Valley Scrappers fans were treated to a great value Thursday night.
The Scrappers hosted Tri-City for a pair of scheduled seven-inning games. To sweeten the deal, Thursday was Buck Night, providing fans with the opportunity to purchase tickets, hot dogs and drinks for a dollar.
Unfortunately, the deal came with a hitch.
Two games meant that 4,835 Scrappers fans had to endure a pair of losses.
The ValleyCats recorded a sweep, winning the first game 4-1 in eight innings, then logging a 1-0 victory in the nightcap.
As a result, the Scrappers fall to 7-18. The losing streak is now at nine, one loss shy of the Scrappers’ all-time record.
The Scrappers managed just three hits on the night. In both games, they failed to get a hit beyond the second inning.
“We come out to the park feeling good, and we’re not really playing that bad,” said Scrappers infielder Paul Hendrix. “We just can’t seem to get that one hit at the right time. Then the other team does come up with a timely hit or two, and we can’t come back.
“We just have to keep battling until things come around.”
Game one pretty much summed up the Scrappers’ season to this point.
The Scrappers managed only one hit, and their only run of the game came thanks to an error and three walks.
Meanwhile, Tri-City’s first run of the game was aided by a Scrappers’ error. The ValleyCats then won the game by roughing up the Scrappers bullpen in a three-run eighth.
During the nine-game losing streak, the Scrappers have committed 21 errors, They have committed 36 this season.
After Tri-City took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a Ryan Dineed RBI single, the Scrappers tied the game at 1 in the sixth. With one out, Cody Ferrell reached second on a throwing error by ValleyCats pitcher Adrian Houser. Three walks then plated Ferrell.
Both teams failed to score in the seventh, then Tri-City scored three runs in the eighth off Scrappers reliever Trevor Frank (0-2). Tony Kemp provided the big blow in the inning with a two-run double. Kemp eventually came around to score on a wild pitch.
The Scrappers’ lone hit of the game came in the second when Claudio Bautista led off with a single. But he was erased while trying to steal second.
In the nightcap, the Scrappers got singles from Cody Ferrell in the first and Hendrix in the second. From that point on, the offense never threatened to score.
The lone run in the game came in the sixth inning, when D’Andre Toney led off with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a James Ramsay base hit.
Three Scrappers pitchers combined to limit Tri-City to just three hits, but it wasn’t enough to offset the anemic offense.
“Right now, it’s possible that we’re pressing at the plate, trying to do too much to get that big hit,” Hendrix said. “We just have to stay focused, stay in our zone. We have to maintain our composure even when we struggle,”
The Scrappers’ all-time longest losing streak occurred in July of 2001 when they lost 10 straight.
Top dog: Scrappers starters Kenny Mathews and Dace Kime combined to work four perfect innings on the night. The duo struck out five without allowing a base runner.
In the doghouse: Scrappers fan Cassie Carroll. The Lisbon native attended her 15th Scrappers game. The Scrappers are 0-15 with Carroll in attendance.
Bark of the night: “It’s buck night. I’ll pay a buck to see the Scrappers get a base hit.” — A frustrated Scrappers fan seated behind home plate.
Kibbles & bits: Wednesday’s game that was postponed because of inclement weather was the first home rainout since last July, when the Scrappers had back-to-back games erased on July 26 and July 27. ... Scrappers batters have been hit by pitches a league-high 23 times this year. ... The Scrappers are batting .277 on the road, but just .198 at home.
Stadium scraps: The Scrappers and ValleyCats conclude their three-game series tonight, beginning at 7:05. Tonight is a Fireworks Night at Eastwood Field. The game will also feature a fundraiser for Luke Holko, the Greene Township boy who was badly injured by a foul ball at a Scrappers game in 2009.