Poor defense spurs Scrappers to 11-6 loss
Errors and Whitenack's struggles too much to overcome
Niles, OH – On a day meant for celebration, the 6,576 fans that filled Eastwood Field rooting for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers had very little to celebrate, watching their hometown team fall 11-6 to the Williamsport Crosscutters. The Scrappers could only muster two hits against Williamsport starting pitcher Julio Reyes, who was making his first start of the season. Mahoning Valley starting pitcher Rob Whitenack, who had been brilliant thus far in 2013, struggled mightily locating in and out of the strike zone, leading to a barrage of Williamsport base runners. Whitenack was not the only problem, however, as his defense let him and the pitching staff down throughout the game, committing four errors.
Whitenack pitched well in the first inning, but gave up runs in each of the next three. Starting in the top of the second, the right-hander struggled to locate his fastball which led to easy basehits by the Crosscutters offense. Gabriel Lino led off the second with a line-drive single and later came around to score on a two-RBI double by Justin Parr. The inning was made worse by a defensive error by third baseman Robel Garcia which would’ve ended the inning. In the third, Whitenack’s defense failed him again, this time with an error by second baseman Claudio Bautista to lead off the inning. Following the error, former second round-pick Dylan Cozens sent a missile flying down the right field line, resulting in a two-run blast. Whitenack finished the day with a line of four innings pitched, nine hits allowed, two walks, three wild pitches, and one strikeout. He threw 45 of his 71 pitches for strikes and fell to 1-2 on the season.
In relief of Whitenack, Kerry Doane fared slightly better, surrendering just a solo home run to first baseman Logan Pierce, who was hitting .333 coming into the game, good for the team lead. Other than the solo shot, Doane threw well, showcasing a knee-bending curveball that often locked-up right-handed batters. He finished the day striking out three, two looking, while allowing two hits.
The Mahoning Valley offense struggled early on, failing to figure out Reyes. Leadoff hitter Cody Farrell, signed last week as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma City College, provided the early offense for the Scrappers. In the bottom of the third inning, Farrell sent a deep fly ball to left-center field. Left fielder Samuel Hiciano took an awkward route to the ball, resulting in a late attempt at a catch. Hiciano crashed hard into the wall on the attempt, allowing the speedy Farrell to earn the rare inside-the-park home run. Hiciano was checked out by medical staff but stayed in the game.
The offense remained dormant until the bottom of the eighth, when they pushed across four runs, albeit on just two hits. The Williamsport pitching staff helped the Scrappers cause in the inning by walking three batters. Ferrell led the inning off with a walk followed by an RBI double by Bautista. Juan Herrera then walked and later scored on a single by designated hitter James Roberts. Roberts then scored on a wild pitch by reliever Manny Martinez. In the ninth, Juan Romero led off the inning with a towering home run that exited the ballpark.
Williamsport’s Julio Reyes, an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic, pitched effectively in the winning effort, allowing just two hits and two walks over his four innings. He struck out six while throwing 43 of his 68 pitches for strikes. Reliever Chris Nichols, a 2012 draftee, hurled two scoreless innings and earned his first win of the season. The Scrappers did the majority of their damage off of Mark Meadors, who lasted just 1 1/3 innings while allowing four earned runs, due in part to his issuing three walks. Manny Martinez pitched a solid ninth inning, allowing just the solo shot to Romero.
The official attendance of 6,576 was the eighth most ever at Eastwood Field. With the loss, Mahoning Valley falls to 7-11 while Williamsport improves to 9-7. The two teams will meet again Friday for game two of the three-game series. Taking the hill for the Scrappers will be Dace Kime, the team’s third-round pick in this year’s draft. This will be the first appearance for Kime, a native of Defiance, Ohio. Shane Martin will toe the rubber for the Crosscutters, entering with a 3.46 ERA in three First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.