By Steve Ruman
Until mid-July, Eastwood Field had been a house of horrors for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
The Scrappers were just 4-12 in their first 16 home games, including eight straight losses, which were part of their historic 12-game losing streak.
However, the Scrappers won at home on July 15, then went on a road trip in which they posted a 4-2 record in New York City.
On Wednesday, the resurgent Scrappers maintained their momentum with a home sweep of a doubleheader against the State College Spikes.
Both games, which were scheduled to go seven innings, were won by the Scrappers in walk-off fashion in the eighth inning.
The Scrappers defeated the Spikes, 2-1, in the night’s first game. In the nightcap, the home team won 1-0.
Since breaking their losing streak, the Scrappers (14-23) have won seven of their last nine games. They are riding a season-high four game winning streak.
The night started with the Scrappers winning literally in walk-off fashion. Lead-off hitter Cody Ferrell walked to open the bottom of the eighth, then advanced to second on a Claudio Bautista single. After both base runners advanced on a wild pitch, Nellie Hernandez was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Paul Hendrix then coaxed a walk to force in the winning run.
The Spikes scored their only run in the fifth when Jimmy Bosco singled home Luke Voit
The Scrappers answered in the bottom half of the inning when catcher Martin Cervenka belted a solo home run into the visiting bullpen in left field.
The Spikes managed just two hits, both against reliever Alexis Paredes. Scrappers starter Kenny Mathews worked four scoreless, hitless innings, striking out four. Harold Guerrero (2-0) pitched the final two frames, striking out three.
The nightcap was a classic pitchers’ duel. Scrappers starter Luis Lugo pitched 52/3 scoreless innings, surrendering just two hits while striking out six. Manuel Carmona worked 21/3 innings without surrendering a hit. He worked around four walks and a hit batsman by recording five strikeouts.
Meanwhile, a trio of Spikes pitchers surrendered just four hits while striking out 12.
The only run of the second game came in the bottom of the eighth, courtesy of a sacrifice fly.
Scrappers catcher Sicnarf Loopstok led off the inning with a single, then advanced to second when Joel Mejia walked. Loopstok was forced out at third on a ground ball, but another walk loaded the bases with one out.
Juan Herrera belted a fly ball to Spikes center fielder Steven Ramos, whose throw to plate failed to beat a sliding Mejia.
The victory guarantees the Scrappers a series win, marking the first time since 2011 they have won three consecutive series.
The Scrappers and Spikes conclude their three-game series tonight at 7:05.