By Ty Bartell
NILES OH- For the fourth occasion this season, The Mahoning Valley Scrappers squared-off against The Trenton Thunder in a three game weekend set, starting this past Friday at Eastwood Field. Despite playing in three series previous, The Thunder and Scrappers only played in six of the nine games, with two axed due to weather and one due to the wildfire smoke from Canada. However, in the six prior meetings, Mahoning Valley showed plenty of guts but Trenton had all the glory, to the tune of a perfect 6-0 record against The Scrappers this season.
Despite the lopsided win-loss record, Mahoning Valley has shown their ability to compete with Trenton time and time again. With all the meetings between the two squads being decided by four runs or less this season and that spans across two halves of a season with completely different teams from one half to the other. That goes back to the old adage of “that’s baseball” where the things we marvel at and wonder “how can it be?” when it is just the infinite possibilities the sport brings on any given day.
In the opener on Friday, it appeared as if The Scrappers were putting the one-sided record
to bed, grabbing an early 2-0 advantage over Trenton in the first inning. Thanks to an RBI single by Mason Sykes and an RBI double by Owen Young.
The Thunder wasted little time in forming a response, in the top of the second inning, Craig Corliss delivered a two RBI double, evening the ballgame up 2-2. Trenton’s Dan Covino broke the tie in the top of the fourth when he went big fly for the second time this season, giving the Thunder a 3-2 lead. Anthony Fontana padded the lead with an RBI double in the top of the fifth, making it 4-2 Trenton.
Scrappers got a run closer in the bottom of the eighth when the hot bat of Corey King lined a single up the middle to make it a one run game! But it was not to be, as Enrique Ozoa came in to close things down for The Thunder, giving them the 4-3 win.
In the Saturday matchup, it seemed as if it was going to be an old school pitchers duel,
with both starters in Jonah Hurney (Trenton) and Dylan Sabia (Mahoning Valley) shutting opposing lineups down through the first two innings.
As opposed to the matchup on Friday, The Thunder looked to score first in game two of the series. The top of the third gave them a prime opportunity, with the first three Thunder bats recording base hits to load the bags up with nobody out. Jack Lynch plated one and gave Trenton the initial lead with a fielders choice groundout. But it was the two-out two RBI single from Anthony Fontana that packed a punch, giving Trenton the 3-0 lead.
Scrappers got a run back in the bottom of the fifth after Justin Wiley got a one out bunt single and D’Aries Davis followed him with a walk. Both runners advanced on a passed ball and Wiley scored off an RBI sacrifice fly by Braylin Marine. Both teams would get quiet on offense following the fifth all the way to the eighth, when Trenton scored two runs in the top half of the inning, making it 5-1 Thunder.
Scrappers scored one more in the bottom of the inning as Braylin Marine led off the frame with a double and came home to score off a Mason Sykes RBI single. But The Trenton bullpen, once again, shut things down for four innings following the start from Hurney, as The Thunder used three early runs to give them the 5-2 win.
Sunday was Christmas in July at Eastwood Field, but it was The Thunder that got the
early gifts. A fielding error by Anthonio Fernandez allowed Kolby Johnson to score and Joe Impeduglia followed that up by drawing a bases loaded walk from Trae Robertson to make it 2-0 Trenton early. Impeduglia would go on to add another run to The Thunder lead in the top of the third inning when he slammed one to center, a 400+ foot shot, making it 3-0.
Mahoning Valley would get on the board in the bottom half of the third when, with two on and two out, Owen Young tripled off the wall in left, bringing home two and bringing The Scrappers to within one run of The Thunder 3-2. Trenton would get right back to work on offense, as they led off the top of the fourth inning with an Angel Mendoza double and a Kolby Johnson single, setting up a sacrifice RBI opportunity for Jack Lynch to make it a 4-2 lead.
Bats would go cold on both sides following the fourth inning as the arms were dealing on a Sunday afternoon. With both pitching staff shutting things down the rest of the way, it was Enrique Ozoa that would close it out in the ninth, earning his second save of the series and giving The Thunder a sweep of The Scrappers with the 4-2 win.
As more things change, the more they stay the same. The Thunder improved their record to 9-0 versus The Scrappers this season. With all the games being decided by four runs or fewer in those meetings. Trenton (27-12) will now focus on defending home, as they start a series with The Frederick Keys (19-21) on Tuesday, July 25th. Mahoning Valley (14-25) will hit the road across the state line into West Virginia in a meeting with The Black Bears (25-14) also starting on Tuesday.