Depleted roster taking a toll on Scrappers
By STEVE RUMAN
Maintaining season-long success can be a tricky proposition for any team at the Class A Short Season level.
Success is the result of a talented roster and talent is often quickly promoted to the next level, even in the heat of a playoff race.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers experienced the “perils of success” this week when three of their top pitchers — Luis Oviedo, Dakody Clemmer and Adam Scott — were promoted to Lake County. The trio own a combined record of 8-2 and a combined earned run average of 2.02.
Also promoted was catcher Gianpaul Gonzalez, while starting pitcher Alex Royalty (0-0, 2.40 ERA) was lost to an undisclosed illness.
Since the roster moves, the Scrappers have lost three of four games. The latest setback came Sunday when the Scrappers fell to State College 4-3 in front of 2,692 fans at Eastwood Field.
The Scrappers (29-18) still own the best record in the New York-Penn League. They also lead Auburn by two-and-a-half games in the Pinckney Division.
“We’ll just keep battling, tomorrow is another day,” Scrappers centerfielder Tre Gantt said. “You don’t really think about the [roster] moves, about how they will change the team. You just go out and play your game. And at the same time, you’re happy for the guys who get bumped up.”
The Scrappers scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning when Gantt tripled, then scored on a Mitch Reeves sacrifice fly.
Gantt entered the weekend batting just .136. However, he went 4-for-4 on Saturday before collecting his first three-bagger of the season a day later.
“You just have to stay focused, stick with your plan” Gantt said. “It’s a long season, and it’s an adjustment coming from college.”
State College benefitted from walks and stolen bases to tie the game in the fourth, then take the lead an inning later. Scrappers starter Juan Mota issued a lead-off walk to Justin Toerner to start the fourth. Toerner stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a Kevin Woodall single.
Three walks and a pair of stolen bases loaded the bases with two out in the fifth. Adoni Kery relieved Mota, and promptly surrendered a bases-clearing double to Stanley Esinal, giving the Spikes a 4-1 advantage.
The Scrappers cut their deficit to 4-2 in the eighth when shortstop Jose Fermin belted his first home run. In the ninth, the Scrappers received singles from Reeves, Henry Pujols and Clark Scolamiero to cut their deficit to 4-3. They had runners on first and second base with one out, but a pair of strikeouts ended the game.
Spikes pitching recorded 16 strikeouts. The Spikes were outhit 8-4, but benefitted from six walks.
“We’ve had our ups and our downs, and we always bounce back,” Reeves said. “You’re going to have these types of games, but the key is to put them aside. To this point we’ve always been able to erase an ugly game and bounce back.”