Oviedo’s sterling start wasted in Scrappers’ loss
Oviedo’s sterling start wasted in defeat
By Steve Ruman
Just how dominant has Mahoning Valley Scrappers starting pitcher Luis Oviedo been this season?
So much so, that Sunday may have been his toughest outing to date. The 19-year-old righty had to work for every out, he gave up a season-high two walks and he went just five innings after throwing 83 pitches.
Oh, and in the process Oviedo didn’t give up an earned run, he recorded six strikeouts and he lowered his earned run average to a New York-Penn League-best 0.32.
Unfortunately for the 1,884 fans at Eastwood Field, Oviedo’s performance was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise tough day for the Scrappers, who fell to Williamsport 8-4.
Oviedo has now gone 27 innings without giving up and earned run. He has 40 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched, with five walks.
“Luis’ fast ball might not have been as crisp as it usually is, but I thought he had a very good outing again today,” said Scrappers pitching coach Jason Blanton. “He had good command of his fastball on both sides of the plate, and he did a great job of mixing in his off-speed stuff. He was his solid self.”
Blanton said that Oviedo is pitching like a seasoned veteran.
“Luis is starting to figure out just how good he can be,” Blanton said. “The physical part has always been there, now he’s taking ownership, he’s driving the bus. He matured quite a bit in Arizona (spring training), he really tapped into the game from a mental aspect.”
Blanton said Oviedo is also the ultimate teammate.
“You don’t have to keep this kid grounded, he is very humble and he is one of the hardest working players I’ve ever been around,” Blanton said. “He understands this game isn’t easy. If someone makes a mistake behind him, he’s the first to pick that player up with a hug and a smile.”
The Scrappers spotted Oviedo a quick 1-0 lead in the first when Jose Fermin led off with a double, then scored on a Richie Palacios base hit. The single extended Palacios’ hitting streak to nine games.
Williamsport tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth. Seth Lancaster opened the inning by singling to right field. With one out, Lancaster advanced all the way to third on an Oviedo throwing error. Then with two out, Lancaster scored on a Ben Aklinski RBI single.
The Scrappers regained the lead in the sixth on a Palacios triple which plated Tyler Freeman. However, Williamsport took the lead for good with a three-run seventh. All the runs came courtesy of Aklinski’s first home run of the season – a three-run shot over the left field wall.
Williamsport also benefited in the seventh from an error by Scrappers third baseman Henry Pujols. It was Pujols’ second error of the game, and fifth of the weekend.
The Crosscutters then broke the game open with a four-run eighth.
Palacios finished the day with three hits in three at-bats, with two runs batted in. He is batting .409.
“I’m seeing the ball well, I’m having a good approach to the plate and it’s paying off,” Palacios said. “Playing every day, and the travel, it’s definitely an adjustment, but I’ve been preparing for this my whole life.”
The game included an oddity for the Scrappers in that they used four pitches — all named Luis. Luis Valdez, Luis Araujo and Luis Santos combined to work four innings in relief of Oviedo.