By Ty Bartell
NILES OH- When it comes to baseball being played at Eastwood Field the past couple of weeks,
mother nature has not been all too kind to Mahoning Valley. Prior to Thursday’s contest between The Scrappers and The Frederick Keys, Mahoning Valley had three of their last nine home games canceled, due to either weather or Canadian wildfire smoke. However, after the cancellation of Wednesday’s game between the two ball clubs, the skies cleared up and the temperature was perfect for some baseball in Northeast Ohio.
Scrappers sent Nathan Medrano to the mound for his first start in The MLB Draft League this year, while The Keys utilized Dalton Ponce, who was given the rock the second time this season. After getting the first out in the top of the first, Frederick had a runner reach on a one out error before three straight singles were rattled off by The Keys, putting them up early 2-0. Medrano would limit the damage, getting the next two outs in the frame while simultaneously stranding a pair of runners in scoring position to end the inning.
Dalton Ponce would make short work of The Scrappers in the bottom of the first, despite allowing a one out base hit to Brad Burkel, Ponce would still strike out the side in the inning with a dominant display of pitching. The second inning saw no offense be put together by either team as both Medrano and Ponce cleared their half inning without a baserunner, sending both lineups down 1-2-3 in the second.
Frederick looked to have a high offensive output for the third inning when Zaid Walker led off the inning with a walk and a steal of second base. Next batter up, Trenton Jamison, would record a base hit to left, but the amazing arm of Travis Moore Jr. said “no runs on my watch” as a gem of a throw from the left fielder erased a run off the board, getting Zaid Walker out at the plate!
The Keys would pick up their change though, as a wild pitch and a passed ball in the inning allowed Jamison to come around to score and up The Frederick lead to now three runs at 3-0.
Both teams would stay quiet offensively the next couple innings to follow, with both Medrano and Ponce dealing on the mound for their respective teams. Scrappers would get one on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Corey King led off the inning with his second hit of the day before a wild pitch got him to second and a stolen base got him to third with less than two outs. Christian Johnson would do his job with the sacrifice fly to center field, scoring King and cutting into the deficit, now a 3-1 Frederick lead.
Despite a one out double by Cameron Butler in the top of the sixth, Nathan Medrano was able to pitch effectively with a runner standing in scoring position by getting a pop out and a strikeout to end the inning and giving Medrano the quality start in the books! Mahoning Valley helped their pitcher out in the bottom of the sixth, as Ponce looked like he was continuing to operate on cruise control, getting the first two outs of the inning with no issue. Then, nine straight balls thrown and three consecutive walks allowed, loaded the bases up with two down for Corey King. For the third straight time in the ballgame, King delivered with a base hit, this time to left field, scoring two and tying the game up 3-3!
Adam Wibert took over for Nathan Medrano in the seventh and he did his job, posting a zero in the inning whilst sending The Keys batters down in order, 1-2-3. Giving The Scrappers a chance to take the lead and they made sure they did just that! A one out Brad Burkel walk would put the go ahead run on for Mason Sykes two batters later with two down. Sykes, who has been a clutch hitting machine as of late, delivered once again with an RBI double to plate Burkel and give Mahoning Valley their first lead 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh!
Despite riding the excitement from having the lead, the game of baseball is quick to remind us that it is a roller coaster ride every time you step between those lines. The next two innings are a perfect example of just that. As the top of the eighth inning is one Scrappers fans and players want to forget rather quickly. Trenton Jamison would single and steal second to start the inning before Taylor Smith brought him home with a base hit, tying the game back up 4-4. Wibert would record the next two outs; Although, Frederick was able to re-capture the lead with the second out of the inning being a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Smith who was on third and putting The Keys back in front 5-4. From that point in the inning, Frederick would see the next nine batters reach base safely, eight of which were on base hits, scoring six runs against two different arms that pitched in the inning for The Scrappers. Sucking the life and energy out of the ballpark that was there the half inning prior, Frederick saw themselves in front 11-4 heading to the bottom of the eight.
Mahoning Valley would get a run back in the eighth inning when David Bermudez hit a one out single, stole second base and came home to score on a RBI single by, who else, but Corey King on his fourth hit of the night! Limiting damage in the inning, Keys pitcher Matthew Maldanado would get out of the eighth, keeping it an 11-5 Frederick advantage.
Trae Robertson took over for The Scrappers in the top of the ninth and would pitch a clean half inning of work, keeping the deficit at six runs heading to the bottom of the ninth inning. With their backs against the wall, needing six runs to defeat The Keys for the first time at Eastwood Field this season, things were looking bleak for that thought to become a reality. However, as Scrappers Manager Dmitri Young would say “There’s 27 outs in this game for a reason. You can’t panic” as Brad Burkel started the bottom of the ninth by reaching off an error by Kirkland Banks. That baserunner opened up the floodgates for The Scrappers!
Mahoning Valley would get two straight singles by TJ Reeves and Mason Sykes to score a run making it 11-6 Frederick and forcing a pitching change from Keys Manager Renee Rivera. Caiden Wood would come out to replace Maldanado on the mound, but The Scrappers picked up where they left off. A base hit by Owen Young and a monster 2 RBI double by Antonio Fernandez had Mahoning Valley on the doorstep of a comeback, now just a 11-8 Frederick lead with The Scrappers having the tying run at the plate and nobody out going forward! Next batter David Bermudez hit an RBI single, putting the tying run on first and making it a two run game. Corey King would get hit by a pitch, reaching safely for his fifth time in the ballgame, and loaded the bases while representing the winning run on first! D’Aires Davis pinch hit earlier in the game but waited till his next at-bat to deliver, as he hit an RBI single making it a slim 11-10 Frederick lead and putting the winning run at second base. Back to the top of the order and Christian Johnson had a chance to be a hero and did he ever put on that cape proudly. Depositing a base hit to center, scoring two, bringing home RBI number two and three on the day and walking off the game a 12-11 winner in one of the most improbable comebacks you could ever see, ending the game with a Mahoning Valley mob scene at second base!
Both teams are back in action on Friday with Frederick (15-16) hitting the road to The Keystone State where they will take on The State College Spikes (14-19). As for The Scrappers (13-19) they hope to build off this victory as they will take on first half champions, The Trenton Thunder (21-10) in New Jersey on Friday night. Mahoning Valley returns to Eastwood Field again on Friday, July 21st where they will host a three game weekend series against Trenton. Come out and enjoy the festivities as the 21st is Pittsburgh Pirates night in the ballpark with post game fireworks to follow! Of course, if you cannot make it out, we got you covered! Find all
Scrappers home games on YSN, your streaming home for Mahoning Valley Scrappers Baseball! (ysnlive.com/scrappers)