By Steve Wilaj
Ted Kubiak couldn’t deny his team’s miscues in the Mahoning Valley Scrappers 3-1 loss to Batavia Friday at Eastwood Field.
“We made mistakes defensively to put runners in scoring position and allow them to score,” he said. “And three hits is not gonna do much for an offense.”
However, there was something else the veteran manager couldn’t overlook.
“But [Julian] Merryweather did a great job,” Kubiak said.
The Scrappers starting pitcher worked five innings, allowing one earned run on one hit, three walks and four strikeouts in a no-decision.
“He keeps the ball down good,” Kubiak said. “I haven’t seen him that much, but he keeps the ball down well and had a good breaking ball at times. He got up a little bit sometimes and got wild, but was able to get back in-synch and get the ball in the zone.”
With the strong outing, the Berkeley, Calif., native lowered his ERA to 1.93 through 14 innings pitched this season.
“The big crowd was there again [5,320], so you just gotta calm your nerves and go out there and try to repeat a delivery,” Merryweather said. “That’s basically what I tried to do today – just stay within myself and find a good rhythm.”
His only hiccup came in the third inning.
With a Batavia runner on second and one out, Merryweather balked, advancing the runner to third. Muckdogs shortstop Brian Anderson then hit into an RBI groundout to tie the game at 1.
“That was my mind doing a thousand different things at one time,” Merryweather said. “I kind of wanted to fake him that I was gonna pick at second, then he took an extra step and I caught myself in-between and tried to step off and I couldn’t.”
Batavia (13-8) scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning on an RBI single by Aaron Blanton off Anthony Vizcaya (1-2). Miles Williams scored from first as Scrappers catcher Martin Cervenka dropped the ball during the tag.
“I thought he should have caught the ball, but it was kind of a tough play with their guy coming in,” Kubiak said. “The home plate rule nowadays messes guys up because they’re trying not to block the plate, yet they’re trying to get the ball – and if it’s not in the right spot — they’re caught.”
“You gotta give [Batavia] credit — they hit the ball and got guys moving around. But offensively we’re just not doing much right now.”
Steven Patterson plated the Scrappers (8-13) only run with an RBI double in the first inning. He finished with two hits to bump his average to .359. D’Vone McClure recorded the only other hit as Batavia pitcher Scott Squier earned the win for three scoreless innings of relief work.
“We’re looking more at what guys are doing up there,” Kubiak said. “Are they improving on themselves? In some cases, yeah. In some cases, guys are still in the middle of trying to fix things and learn things.”