Playoff-bound Scrappers rally past Bears
NY-PL regular season concludes today
By Steve Ruman
Nothing, it seems, can slow down the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
Not Mother Nature. (Back-to-back rainouts earlier this week resulted in a doubleheader at Batavia, which the Scrappers swept.)
Not a division-clinching celebration. (The Scrappers clinched the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League with Monday’s doubleheader sweep, celebrated into the night, and came back and beat the Muckdogs on Tuesday.)
Not the West Virginia Black Bears. (Two weeks ago the Black Bears held a three-game lead in the Pinckney Division, but fell from the top spot after losing five of seven to the Scrappers.)
On Wednesday, the Scrappers (44-29) continued their late-season surge with a 7-5 come-from-behind win over the Black Bears in front of an announced crowd of 1,500 at Eastwood Field.
The start of the game was delayed by nearly two hours because of the threat of rain, which never materialized.
Once the game did start, the Scrappers displayed their playoff-bound grit.
Trailing 2-0 in the sixth, the Scrappers tied the game with a two-run frame. Nolan Jones plated Will Benson with a one-out double. Jones then scored on an Oscar Gonzalez base hit.
Then, after the Black Bears took a 5-2 lead in the seventh, the Scrappers responded with a five-run eighth, leading them to their fifth straight win.
The Scrappers strung together five consecutive hits in the decisive frame. Austen Wade knocked in a pair of runs with a two-run double. Jones and Dillon Persinger each plated a run.
The victory was just the latest of a series of Scrappers wins which will send the club soaring into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
“It’s nice to see this club still fighting, still not backing down,” said first-year manager Luke Carlin. “It’s important to be playing well heading into the playoffs, so to see these guys continue to battle as if they haven’t won anything yet, it’s just a great sign.”
Carlin said that the Scrappers’ play during their playoff drive has been indicative of the the way the team has approached the game since early June.
“I remember coming out of spring training thinking that we had a really solid core of players,” Carlin said. “Really, right from the start, this team has never backed down, they have always had a never-quit attitude.”
Carlin said that the Scrappers have been able to mix business with pleasure en route to their division title.
“It’s been fun, this is a great group of guys and I have a great staff, so we’ve had a lot of fun so far,” Carlin said. “Everyone has been locked in since day one. This is a very dedicated group.
“They are very business-like in their approach to the game, but at the same time they love playing the game. They enjoy what they’re doing, so it has been a rewarding experience all the way around.”
Carlin said that Tuesday’s sweep of Batavia helped solidify his belief that the club is both focused and deep in talent.
“We gave some of our regulars a day off after winning the division, and we still went out and played really hard and really well,” Carlin said. “That’s the beauty of this team. When you look at good teams, you find that it’s everybody that contributes. That’s what we have with this group.”
The Scrappers and Black Bears conclude their brief two-game series (and the regular season) tonight at 7:05. The Scrappers will then head to either Vermont or Hudson Valley to play the first game of a best-of-three playoff series, which begins Saturday.