Archive for June, 2012

Scrappers Rally For 3-2 Win After Rain Delay


The early-season position scramble was in full-effect Friday night at Eastwood Field.  Manager Ted Kubiak shuffled a few of his young Mahoning Valley Scrappers around to see if he could get a spark out of some guys from new angles.  Following a rain delay that lasted a little more than an hour, the Scrappers found a way to get it done and won, 3-2.

One of the experiments involved Joey Wendle (above).  Wendle saw action at third base for the first time as a Scrapper rather than the view he is used to from second.  Wendle had a productive night with the bat (3-4) and made all of the routine plays.  Experiment one clicked.

The Spikes picked up a run in each, the third and fourth innings.  The run in the third was scored by Chris Diaz on a groundout.  The fourth inning run was pretty much all Yhonathan Barrios.  The State College 3B singled and stole second.  He then advanced to third on a fly out and would eventually score on a Jared Lakind groundout.


Experiment number two was to get as many catchers on the field as possible.  Three of the four Scrappers catchers started.  Charlie Valerio started the game behind the plate.  Last nights hitting star, Jeremy Lucas, coming off of a 4-4 performance, got the start at DH.  Mitch Nilsson, the Aussie prospect, took a stab at first base.  The three catchers combined to go 0-8 at the plate.  Experiment two may need rethought.

Scrappers starter Jake Cisco went 6-1/3 innings.  He threw 76 pitches (50 strikes) and gave up two earned runs.  Cisco walked one and struck out three Spikes batters.  Jacob Lee was summoned from the bullpen to relieve Cisco.

The Scrapper bats came to life in the bottom of the seventh.  Wendle nabbed his third single in as many at bats.  Hunter Jones followed with a double that drove home a hustling Wendle to make it 2-1.  Aaron Siliga (above) followed that with a single that pushed Jones across to tie the game.


Tyler Naquin started the eighth with a way to get on as he hustled up the line and the first basemen dropped the throw.  Naquin ended up on second base.  Lucas then executed a nice bunt to move Naquin over to third.  Valerio then hit a sac fly deep enough to plate the speedy top draft pick, Naquin, from third to vault the Scrappers into a 3-2 lead.

Lee picked up the win for the Scrappers throwing 2-2/3 scoreless innings.

Scrappers Show Heart In 7-6 Comeback Win


When you think of the word consistency, you visualize steady progress at regular intervals.  The hand that Manager Ted Kubiak has been dealt this year needs to develop more consistency with the bat, the gloves, and the mound.  Thursday, Mahoning Valley took a big step in the right direction and posted a 7-6 win after blowing an early four-run lead over the State College Spikes.

“I was thinking about that earlier”, stated Kubiak after the game.  “The whole game is consistency and despite the fact that we had a bad inning, we were able to overcome a deficit and pull out a nice win tonight.  But you are correct about consistency and in order for us to develop that, we have to keep having good pregame workouts.”

Mahoning Valley scored a run in the first inning to nab the early 1-0 lead.  Jairo Kelly started the frame with a single. Charlie Valerio then laced a double to the left-center gab allowing Kelly to show off the wheels and score from first base.

In the second inning, Kelly struck again when he connected for his first home run.  The bomb was of the three run variety and gave the Scrappers a nice 4-0 cushion.  Aaron Siliga and Jeremy Lucas were on base when Kelly hit the homer.


Consistency then made another disruptive appearance at Eastwood Field.  Staked to a 4-0 lead, the Scrappers gave it all back in the top of the third.  State College was able to tie the game on a passed ball and RBI hits from DJ Crumlich, Chris Diaz, and Ryan Hornbuck.

Scrappers starter, Geoff Davenport, pitched five complete innings and did not factor into the decision.  Davenport gave up four runs, all earned, on seven hits, while striking out three and walking one.  Michael Peoples took over for the Scrappers to start the sixth.

The Spikes took the lead in the sixth when Peoples walked Walter Gourley with one out. Gourley advanced to second when Peoples made an errant throw to first on a pickoff attempt.  David Valesente then singled to drive home Gourley with the go-ahead run.


In the bottom of the eighth, back-to-back bloop singles by Joe Sever and Siliga put runners on first and third.  Lucas collected his fourth hit and second RBI with a liner over the shortstop to plate Sever with the game-tying run.  Joey Wendle then pinch hit and drove in his housemate, Siliga, with a deep sac fly to make it a 6-5 Scrappers lead.

Lucas had his best night as a pro, going 4-4 with two RBI.  Valerio and Kelly also had three hits each to lead the Scrapper highest hit total of 2012 with 13.

“We have been struggling with the bats”, said Lucas, who competes with three other catchers for playing time.

“I like that we are carrying so many [catchers], it makes it more competitive and forces me to work harder to get better.”

Enosil Tejeda came in and worked two scoreless innings for the Scrappers and earned the win in relief.

Scrappers Fall 2-1, Muster Only Two Hits


The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are having a problem that hitting coach Tony Mansolino informally addressed during a between innings chat with me in the home dugout.

“We need to start hitting”, said Mansolino.

Two-and-a-half hours later, and two hits later, the Scrappers assistant coach had a validated concern, the Scrappers are simply not hitting.

In the second inning, Williamsport took a 1-0 lead.  Larry Greene singled up the middle and advanced to third base on a force at first.  Greene would later cross the plate when Mitch Walding also singled to center.

Mahoning Valley tied the game in their half of the second.  Joseph Wendle walked with one out and advanced to third on a Hunter Jones single.  Crosscutters starter Delvin Perez balked allowing Wendle a jog home.


Crosscutters Manager Andy Tracy was ejected in the middle of the second inning.  Tracy argued that his player got back to third before the Scrappers Joe Sever caught a line drive and dove to the third base bag.  The umpire made the out call for the inning ending double play and Tracy hit the field running.  A few minutes later, to the pleasure of the Eastwood Field crowd, Tracy walked toward the showers.

Scrapper starter Robbie Aviles did well to get himself out of a couple of jams and left the game after throwing five complete innings.  Aviles threw 57 pitches (30 strikes), gave up one earned run on five hits, walked one and did not record a strikeout.

Williamsport greeted new Scrapper hurler, Josh Martin with quick problems.  Christopher Serritella, the first Crosscutter batter of the inning, hit a home run to right  to give his team a lead of 2-1.  Martin recovered well and struck out the last six batters he faced  to keep Williamsport within reach.


Through eight innings, the Scrappers were held to just two hits.  Williamsport was doing a good job mixing locations and speeds to Scrapper hitters.  The results were a lot of fly outs and routine groundouts.

Nicholas Hanson earned the win for Williamsport.  Zach Cooper pitched the ninth to earn the save.


Southside Boxing Club Golf Outing Saturday At Bedford Trails


Bedford Trails in Coitsville will be the setting this Saturday for the Second Annual Southside Boxing Club Golf Scramble.  The event kicks off at 1:30 and there are still a couple of openings for teams.

The scramble format competition, created by gym owner Jack Loew, covers fees for the Southside Boxing Club to take fighters to national tournaments.  This year, Loew will escort Popo Salinas to the Ringside World Amateur Tournament, and entrance fees, travel costs, and lodging are not free, so part of the proceeds will cover some of those expenses.

“I pay my bills, it’s no secret that I do a lot of blacktop work and pay the bills”, said Loew.  “People should know where the money goes for this event, and it is a great thing for kids like Popo, giving them a chance to fight the best in the world.  This kind of fund raiser allows the trip to happen.”

The cost to play in the outing is $85 per player based on a four-person team, or $320 per team.  The fee includes food on the turn and a great meal at the end of the scramble.  Also included are 18 holes and a riding cart and refreshments to be carted around by some friends of the cause.

Scrappers Show Good Balance In 6-2 Win Over Williamsport


Ted Kubiak had been promising for a week or so that his team was capable of scoring runs.  Tuesday night, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers delivered on Kubiak’s statement and posted a big number in a 6-2 win over the Williamsport Crosscutters.

Williamsport scored the first run of the game.  Speedy Diego Gonzalez reached first on a bunt single.  Gonzalez then stole second and went to third on a throwing error.  He then scored when the next batter, Chace Numata, hit a ball that second baseman Robel Garcia could not field cleanly.

The Scrappers answered in the bottom of the first.  Jairo Kelly singled up the middle and moved to second base on a Tyler Naquin single.  Kelly was caught stealing third which proved costly as the next batter, Juan Romero, hit his league-leading fourth home run of the season (below) to stake Mahoning Valley to a 2-1 lead.


The Scrappers tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the second.  Erik Gonzalez started the frame with a walk and stole second.  Evan Frazer and Garcia also walked to load the bases off of Crosscutter starter Jonathan Musser.  With one out, Naquin walked forcing in a run.  Charlie Valerio greeted new Williamsport pitcher, Luis Gonzalez with a two-run single increasing the lead to 5-1.

“I am really impressed with this bunch”, boasted Kubiak.  “They bring a lot of energy and attitude and our pregame workouts have gone really well.”

The Scrappers added a run in the bottom of the fourth to make it a commanding 6-1 lead.  Naquin recorded his third hit of the night, an RBI-double, that plated Garcia and seemingly put the Scrappers in the drivers seat in this one.


Ryan Merritt (above) pitched five complete innings for the Scrappers in picking up the win.  Merritt scattered six hits and gave up an earned run while striking out three Crosscutters and walking one.  The outing started shaky, but Merritt really dialed in after the rough first inning to keep Williamsport at bay.

“I am impressed with him [Merritt]”, said Kubiak.  “It seems that the longer the game goes, the better he gets.  He has good control, but we have to address this slow start thing, maybe we can get him to throw longer before the game starts to some fake batters.”

Jacob Lee ,Rafael Homblert, and Robert Wagner closed out the game yielding just one unearned run in the four innings combined.

5th Annual Eastwood Field Baseball Camp Offered In July

The Fifth Annual Eastwood Field Summer Baseball Camps are scheduled for July 10-12 at Eastwood Field.  Craig Antush is the lead instructor of this year’s camp which is open to boys and girls aged 6-14.

Each of the three days are broken into three options:

Option 1 runs from 9 am until noon and is a fundamentals camp for hitting, throwing, and fielding.  The cost for this portion of the camp is $125.00 per participant.

Option 2 runs from 12:30 pm until 2 pm and concentrates solely on pitching skills such as release point, proper leg drive, mechanics, and motion.  The cost for the pitching-only option is $60.00.

Option 3 is simply the combination of options 1 and 2 at a reduced rate.  The all-day camp cost is $150.00.  If campers plan on attending the all-day camp, they will need to bring a lunch.

These camps will take place come rain or shine.Videotaping will take place Tuesday and Thursday only.

To register contact the Scrapper offices at 330-505-0000 or call Crain Antush at 330-539-4577.  Registration for the camps have begun, so call to reserve a spot as space is limited!

Scrappers Fall 3-2 Despite Great Pitching Effort By DeJesus


The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have been struggling for offense through the first week of the 2012 season.  Monday night, the Scrappers managed to score a couple of runs, but Williamsport scored a third to win the game 3-2.

“We just are not scoring runs”, said Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak.  “After losing the three on the road, I was very pleased from a developmental standpoint of the day workout we had here today.  These kids are all very upbeat and were in good spirits today, we just did not get the win tonight.”

In the bottom of the third inning, the Scrappers scored the first run of the game when Jairo Kelly found his way on base and trotted home on a Charlie Valerio single.

The Scrappers would double their lead in the bottom of the fourth, taking a 2-0 lead.  Aaron Siliga crossed the plate with the run.  Siliga reached base on a double and later scored when Williamsport SS Roman Quinn could not handle a hard hit ball by the Scrappers Erik Gonzalez.  Although Quinn was given an error, Gonzalez was still credited with an RBI because Siliga broke on contact for home.

Luis DeJesus was cruising right along with a no-hitter into the fifth inning when Crosscutter right fielder Mitch Pointer made it a 2-1 game with one swing of the bat.  Pointer hit a DeJesus offering into the right field Scrappers bullpen.  Michael Peoples pitched the ninth for the Scrappers.


DeJesus pitched six full innings for the Scrappers, yielding just three hits, and striking out eight while walking none.

“He [DeJesus] is a hard worker”, said Scrappers pitching coach Greg Hibbard. “He is doing a good job of throwing his fastball on both sides of the plate and gets his breaking stuff over.  When he throws strikes and relies on the defense behind him, he will do well.”

“My dad always told me not to get mad or show emotion”, said DeJesus.  “My mentality after the home run was to keep going.  I was still confident and was surprised to learn that I had eight strikeouts tonight.”

The Scrappers could not hold the lead DeJesus managed to garner before exiting.  Larry Green scored on Pointer’s double with one out.  Cody Penny was the Scrapper to relieve DeJesus.  Penny had Green down with an 0-2 count before losing that battle.

The next batter, Mitch Walding singled up the middle to score Pointer and give Williamsport a 3-2 lead.

The Scrappers had a couple of runners on in the bottom of the ninth, but failed to score.

Scrappers Struggle With The Bats In 6-2 Loss


Meeting for the fourth time in as many days, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Jamestown Jammers continued a pattern of alternating whose turn it was to win.  On Thursday, Jamestown jumped out to a three run lead and held on to earn a split with the Scrappers, posting a 6-2 win in Niles.

Jamestown scored in the top of the first inning when Anthony Gomez, a pest in the Scrappers sides all night, walked and stole second.  Gomez trotted home with the game’s first run when Viosergy Rosa doubled.

Mahoning Valley tied it up in the bottom half of the first when Jose Ramirez started with a single and stole second.  After advancing to third, Ramirez trotted home on a wild pitch.


Scrappers starting pitcher Ryan Merritt lasted four innings and had a shaky outing.  Merritt gave up nine hits and four earned runs before departing with his team trailing 4-1.  Merritt was relieved by Rafael Homblert.  Cody Penny started the seventh and  Luis Encarnacion finished for the Scrappers (2-2).

Brian Dice homered for the Jammers in the sixth to increase the lead to 5-1.


The Scrappers didn’t fare much better with the bats on “Buck Night”. Ramirez singled to start the game and doubled in the eighth, and Mitchell Nilsson, Juan Romero and Hunter Jones singled for the Scrappers only hits in the game.

Jacob Esch, who relieved Jamestown starter Ryan Newell to start the third, earned the win in relief.  Esch pitched five scoreless innings in picking up the win.

The Scrappers take to the road for a three-game series at State College before returning home Monday for six consecutive home games.

Scrappers Win Home Opener In 11th, 2-1


The Mahoning Valley Scrappers opened the doors to Eastwood Field Wednesday night.  The fans, all 5,122 of them, were treated to extra innings against the Jamestown Jammers.  The Scrappers pulled out a dramatic 11th inning 2-1 victory to raise their record to 2-1 on the young season.

The Scrappers loaded the bases with nobody out in the 11th.  Evan Frazar hit into a fielders choice for a force at home.  That brought Juan Romero to the plate, bases jammed, one out.  Romero walked on four pitches to force Joseph Wendle across the plate with the winning rub.

Tyler Naquin, the Cleveland Indians First Round Draft Pick (pictured above), showed why he was taken early a couple of weeks ago with a 3-4 plate performance.  Naquin collected his first professional hit in the first inning, stole second, and doubled in his next at-bat.  Proving he was not a one-dimensional player, the Scrappers young center fielder showed off his arm with a couple of very strong throws to third base after catches.


There are kinks to work out, but this will be a fun team to see.  The Scrappers got on the scoreboard first when Charlie Valerio doubled.  The next batter, Joseph Wendle, singled home Valerio to put the Scrappers ahead, 1-0.

“I have never played in front of this many people before”, said Wendle.  “It is going to be a fun Summer here and I like my host family, so far it has been a great experience.”

Scrappers starter Luis DeJesus had a good outing for Mahoning Valley.  DeJesus threw five scoreless innings, had a pair of strikeouts and yielded a walk in his debut before exiting with a knee problem.  Michael Peoples took over on the mound to start the sixth.


Jamestown rallied in the seventh when Juancito Martinez singled in Jose Behar to tie the game at a run each.

Louis Head came out of the Scrappers bullpen to start the eighth inning of the 1-1 game.   Head threw three scoreless innings in his relief stint, but the Scrappers could not get a run in the bottom of the ninth and play continued into extra innings.

“I thought Head and Peoples gave us tremendous innings out of the bullpen tonight”, said manager Ted Kubiak (above).  “Our guys in the middle made solid plays on hard chances and it was nice to hear these people here cheering for us tonight.”

One of last years returning players, Enosil Tejeda, started the 11th for the Scrappers and picked up the win.

These two teams meet again on Thursday before the Scrappers get on the bus and head east until Monday.  The first pitch on “Buck Night” is scheduled for 7:05.

Lisa Neeld And The Next Step: The Annual Interview


When I first met Lisa Neeld in the Summer of 2009 at a Scrappers game, I was not sure what to think of her.  I knew she was in Playboy and she came off as ditzy and careless.  First impressions don’t always tell the tale, especially in this case.  Several interviews later, and a few appearances on her reality show, have made Lisa a close acquaintance who I now think very highly of.  How can anyone not respect a single mother who is business savvy and works out like a middleweight contender?

Neeld is busy again, very busy.  Her newest venture, Lisa Neeld’s VIP Fitness Studio reflects the type of person that Neeld is.  It is not the typical Zumba center because it is a bit more intense.  There are classes running now and Lisa Neeld is in top shape, she just ran a marathon in Denver earlier this year, a 26.2 k.  She toned it down last month with a modest 13.1k run.

“It was verified in Cleveland that I was officially the first cover model to ever finish a marathon”, said Neeld.  “To this day, I am the only one from Playboy to do that, I am the exception.”

She is also gearing up for season two of VIP Style, her reality show that will start filming within the month.  Don’t think she slacks off her duties of motherhood for selfish fulfillment either, her kids mean the world to her.  She is truly why people should not refer to Playboy models as dead weight in the real world.  Neeld is a contributor and now a friend.  I recently caught up with her to talk about the new gym and season two of the reality show.


Paneech:  Tell me what you have been into these days.

Neeld:  This [fitness center] is home base right now.  We are going into Season Two of VIP Style on September 6th and we are so excited to be doing all new episodes.  There are still reruns going on the CW right now, but we are thrilled about this upcoming season, it will be better than the first.  You’ll be in there!

Paneech:  How are the other things going, like your trademark brand barbecue sauce?

Neeld:  Guy of Guy’s Barbecue is a good friend and he was the mind behind that whole project when it started.  We are out of the food business now, it was fun while it lasted but it was not for me (laughs).  I have also left ‘The Wolf’, it was time and it ran its course.  The fact that I am a single mom makes it tough when you are only one person.  I love Fast Freddie and the gang over there.

Paneech:  So just how much preparation goes into the TV show?

Neeld:  We are already having meetings now to put together a shooting schedule and get things ready, like compiling footage to be edited.  We line all of that up, and I am going to be doing a lot more with the local boxing shows.


Paneech:  Nice gym you have here, what brand of clientele are you drawing?

Neeld:  Thanks!  It is a pretty diverse crowd.  I have a boxer who is coming in here to train.  I have Zumba, Cardio-Go-Go, and Hip Hop programs that are drawing mostly women.  But this ain’t no fluffy spot, we have the hardcore stuff too.  The only thing pink in here is the bathroom and it is a hard pink.  We are trying to cater to everyone.  We have a killer Insanity class on Tuesday’s.  We have a hardcore abs sculpting class.  Even the softer stuff is harder.

Paneech:  So my fat and out of shape self comes through your door, how am I sucked into the programs offered?

Neeld:  (laughs, maybe too loud)  There are different options.  If you are doing the classes like the drumming, kettle bell, kickboxing, or ab sculpting, they are offered in a $29 monthly package – and that is unlimited access, you can come five times a week if you want.  There are also ways to come in and pay for a single class, it is a better deal to get the month though.  I have a basketball player from Youngstown State named Steve who is coming now, he is really maximizing the programs offered here.  The good thing is that I have housewives that also come and get what they need too.

Paneech:  So is it all group work?

Neeld:  Well, we do personal training.  We utilize the Total Gym systems, which are all gravity-based.  We also use suspension training.  I guarantee we can do anything on the straps and Total Gym that any gym can offer.  It is a great concept of using your own body weight against itself.  I am personally involved with every class.  I have a male instructor, Gary Mink, who has 35 marathons under his belt, he is a trainer.  We also offer ‘buddy workouts’ where two people can work out at once.  I do the Zumba and drums class.


Paneech:  If it catches on, will you look for a bigger place?

Neeld:  You know me well enough to know that I go big.  Once we fill in and add time slots, we will look into expansion or open another.  I would like to use five years as a mark to expand.  We are right across the street from Wal-Mart in Cortland, so it is easy to find.  In an average day, I am doing three classes, doing a couple of personal training sessions, and still getting my running in.  We offer about 17 classes plus the personal training a week.  So far the people love it, I am proud that there is no competition here, everyone is comfortable and it is a friendly and productive environment.

Paneech:  How do you make someone challenge their limits to do more?

Neeld:  I have learned how to watch people.  When they are not talking, it is too hard and they are not having fun because it is too hard.  I push people within reason and I would never make a customer do something that I have not or could not do.

Paneech:  There is a whole shelf full of toys.  Drum sticks I know how to use.  What purpose do they serve here?

Neeld:  We flip over milk crates and use stability balls.  The workout consists of pounding away for 45 minutes.  It is the most intense arm-toning thing you can do.  Five minutes into it people are stunned at how tired they are already.  The ladies like it because they can take their aggression out.  It also sharpens the mind and hand-eye coordination.

The concepts are fresh, the hostess wants the customers to benefit, and she is there giving her all, every single day.  Lisa Neeld’s VIP Fitness Center is a very unique and fresh approach to fitness.  She is evolving beyond throwing pitches at Scrappers games and appearances to focus on her newest venture due to time constraints.  She claims there are not enough hours in the day, I claim there are not enough Lisa Neelds in the world.