By Steve Ruman
A series of thunderstorms which moved through Trumbull County on Tuesday avoided Niles enough to allow the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Williamsport to play baseball.
As it turned out, Mother Nature could have done the Scrappers a huge favor had she placed a rain cloud over Eastwood Field. A rainout would have been a welcome relief to the proverbial dark cloud which has hovered over the stadium since opening day.
The doom and gloom at home reached its zenith in the Scrappers’ 8-3 loss to the Crosscutters in front of 3,035 fans.
The Scrappers didn’t collect their first hit until the eighth inning, and were limited to four hits on the night.
The loss was the Scrappers’ fifth straight, and 10th in their last 13 games. They are now 3-11 at home.
“It was pretty special to see us take a no-hitter into the eighth,” said Williamsport manager Shawn Williams. “They are so hard to come by, and you never expect to see one even when you get that deep into the game.
“I’ve been around the game for a long time, and I’ve only experienced one as a player. We didn’t get one tonight, but it didn’t take away from a very fine pitching performance.”
Williamsport starter Feliberto Sanchez (1-4) worked five hitless innings. He struck out two and allowed three walks.
Sanchez entered the game without a win and with a 9.00 ERA.
“He looked good his last time out even though the numbers didn’t show, and tonight he was getting ahead of batters and he had good control,” Williams said.
Mark Meadors relieved Sanchez and worked two innings, giving up just a walk.
Calvin Rayburn worked the bottom of the eighth, and on his second pitch gave up a double to Drake Roberts.
“Honestly, I think the pressure of a no-hitter is much tougher on the reliever than it is the starter,” Willams said. “They have to sit there and watch the pressure mount as the game goes on.”
Williamsport’s offense was led by Derek Campbell, who went 3-for-5 with a home run and 4 RBIs.
Scrappers starter Kieran Lovegrove (1-2, 6.88 ERA) worked 31/3 innings, giving up the three runs on six hits.
Roberts, Austin Fisher and Leo Castillo each had an RBI for the Scrappers.
The Scrappers return to action tonight when they begin a three-game homestand at Hudson Valley.