By Steve Ruman
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have struggled to gain any bit of consistency throughout the course of the season. Still, there have been individuals who have provided steady success.
Among them, the trio of Greg Allen, Bradley Zimmer and Cameron Hill flexed their muscles Saturday in a Scrappers’ 5-1 home win over Williamsport in front of 2,470 fans.
Allen went 2 for 4, scored a pair of runs and stole three bases. He now leads the New York-Penn League with 22 steals.
Zimmer went 2 for 3 and scored twice. The outfielder, now batting .313, collected three RBIs and belted a home run deep over the right-field wall.
Hill, as he has done all season long, provided the Scrappers with a solid start. The right-hander pitched five innings without allowing a run. He scattered four hits and struck out three without allowing a walk.
Hill (1-1) picked up his first win of the season despite sporting an impressive 1.74 ERA.
“Overall, this was one of our better games of the year, I think it shows what we’re capable of,” Allen said. “We have a whole lot of talent, and I think it was showcased tonight. Bradley had a great game, the defense was strong all night and the pitching came through from start to finish.
“When all of those things are working together, it shows what we can do.”
The Scrappers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth thanks to the speed of Allen. The right fielder walked to start the inning, stole second, then advanced to third on a flyout to center. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Francisco Mejia.
Allen, the Scrappers’ leadoff hitter, also swiped a base in the first inning. He collected his third steal in the seventh, which helped set up a run.
“I’m just trying to do my job which is to get on base any way I can,” Allen said. “When the opportunities to steal come up, I take them. I’ve talked to [Scrappers manager] Ted [Kubiak] and he pretty much has given me the green light to go when I feel the time is right.”
While Allen was surprised to learn that he now leads the league in steals, he said he will now make it a goal to stay ahead of the pack for the final 14 games of the season.
“I’ll keep trying to stay productive any way I can,” Allen said. “I won’t go out of my game, but I’ll keep trying to get on base and stay aggressive.”
The speedy Allen noted that there is more to stealing bases than meets the eye.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Allen said. “Knowing your counts, knowing your pitchers, just having the instinct to know when to go and when to stay. I’m still learning from day to day.”
The Scrappers took a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning when Bradley swung at an 0-2 pitch and belted his third homer of the season.
The Crosscutters scored their only run of the night in the seventh off Scrappers reliever Edward Estrella. Derek Campbell reached on an infield single to start the inning, then scored on a Jose Pujols double.
But the Scrappers answered with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to put the game away.
Zimmer collected the big hit in the inning with a two-out single that plated a pair of runs. Fancisco Mejia followed with a base hit that scored Zimmer.
The Scrapppers and Crosscutters conclude their three-game series tat 5:05 today.