Scrappers’ magic number at 3 after split of twinbill
By Steve Ruman
The final Buck Night of the season meant one-dollar tickets, drinks and hot dogs for the 2,620 fans at Eastwood Field.
It also meant one win apiece for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Batavia Muckdogs.
Mahoning Valley and Batavia split a doubleheader Thursday, with the Scrappers winning the opener 2-1, while the Muckdogs took the nightcap 1-0.
Each team collected five base hits in the first game. There were a total of five hits in the finale.
“That’s typical baseball late in the year for teams in the playoff chase,” said Scrappers manager Jim Pankovits. “Low scoring, trying to advance runners, trying to squeeze out any run you can get. Two good games with a lot on the line.”
The split wasn’t all bad for the Scrappers (39-32), who entered the night one-and-a-half games ahead of Auburn in the Pinkney Division of the New York-Penn League. Auburn also split a doubleheader with Williamsport, meaning the Scrappers maintained their lead.
At the end of the night, the Scrappers reduced their magic number to three with four games remaining in the regular season.
The night began with Indians starting pitcher Cody Anderson making a rehab appearance for the Scrappers. Anderson, who began his professional career with the Scrappers in 2011, worked one inning and threw just 12 pitches.
Anderson didn’t give up a hit and recorded a pair of strikeouts. But the Muckdogs scored a run when leadoff hitter Davis Bradshaw reached on a wild pitch after striking out, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Anderson hasn’t pitched for the Indians since the end of the 2016 season. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2017.
The Scrappers tied the game at 1 in the third when Connor Smith was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, then eventually came around to score on a Henry Pujols base hit. The Scrappers scored the game’s winning run in the fourth on a Clark Scolamiero sacrifice fly.
Batavia put runners at second and third with one out in the top of the seventh, but Manuel Alvarez retired a pair of batters to earn his fifth save of the season.
Zack Draper (7-4) pitched four scoreless innings, scattering five hits, to pick up the win.
“From an offensive perspective, it was a disappointing night, but we saw some really strong pitching in both games,” Pankovits said. “That’s a very positive sign heading into these final few games. We definitely like our chances when we hold teams in check like we did tonight.”
The only run of the second game was scored in the third inning. Demetrius Sims led off the frame with a double, then scored an unearned run on a Jose Fermin fielding error.
Three Batavia pitchers held the Scrappers to two while recording 11 strikeouts.
“There is a lot of offense between these two teams, I wouldn’t be surprised if we both come out tomorrow and put up some runs on the scoreboard,” Pankovits said.
The Scrappers and Muckdogs conclude their three-game series tonight. The Scrappers then travel to West Virginia for a three-game set to close the regular season.
The NYPL playoffs begin next Wednesday. The Scrappers are looking for their second straight Pinckney Division title.