Archive for August, 2012

Scrappers 2012 Wrap-Up


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This space is usually devoted to a Mahoning Valley Scrappers game summary.  However, with this being my last trip to Eastwood Field, I decided to shift gears and do a season summary complete with comments from the GM, Jordan Taylor.  No worries, game updates and summary will be tied in!

The 2012 version of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers has been marked with some great individual efforts and some unforeseen disappointments.  On the player end of the spectrum, the team lacked a couple of pieces of the puzzle to get over the top.  Among those who excelled and have a good shot at a future playing baseball in the bigs were Joe Wendle, Charlie Valerio, Joe Sever, Tyler Naquin, Luis DeJesus, and Jacob Lee.  These guys were  the most consistent contributors on the field.  Much hyped prospect Dorssys Paulino, who on Thursday was named the All-Star shortstop for the Arizona League, has not been around long enough to be included, but will contribute in the future.

Jairo Kelly, Robel Garcia, and the bullpen were the biggest disappointments.  Kelly, who recently was sent to Arizona, struck out 68 times before being shipped out.  The bullpen blew several quality starts for Scrapper starters and has only become effective in the last three weeks.

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The coach of the Scrappers, Ted Kubiak, may have been a bigger disappointment than any of the players this season.  Respectfully, Kubiak seemed tired, fed up with the youthful enthusiasm of his team, and just looked out of sorts sometimes.  The casual observer could tell he was not happy being in Youngstown.  Kubiak is the definition of a meat and potatoes, no-nonsense coach.  He obviously knows the game of baseball to be where he is professionally, but needs to refine his people skills a bit.

From a business standpoint, Jordan Taylor and the Scrappers office staff did an outstanding job.  The Scrappers averaged 3,055 fans per game, a new high since the team started playing at Eastwood Field in 1999.  The staff also had to deal with hosting the 2012 New York-Penn League All-Star Game and put on a fantastic spectacle for this area to be proud of.

Here were some comments from Taylor:

On The 2012 Season:  “I thought things went really well.  I feel like everything that we could control, we did a really good job with.  We were one of the few teams in the Penn League who had an upswing in attendance.  Considering some of the bad luck we had, mostly with the weather, we are really proud about the increase.  I couldn’t have been happier with the All-Star game and surrounding events.”

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On Promotions:  “Obviously, we aways do really well with the wrestling promotion.   Some of the traditional promotions, like Buck Night, are really our bread and butter.  The soap star promotion is successful like the wrestling promotion in the sense that the fans get an experience.  Some of the fringe promotions, like 50′s night, don’t usually do as well as we would hope, but they are more for the entertainment factor rather than trying to draw people in.  I’m excited about Zombie Survival Night, where we pay tribute to some of the cult classics and will have employees running around in zombie makeup and attire.”

(Game Update)  Fourth inning and Estarlin Martinez hits what might be the longest home run in Scrappers history.  Tie game, 4-4.

On The Air:  Tim Pozsgai was great for us this year.  It is my hope that we will keep Tim with us next year.  Usually the radio job is a year-to-year thing and traditionally a seasonal stepping stone type thing.  I would put Tim up against anyone that we have had here as a former baseball player and the learning perspective he had.  He also learned a lot from Tom Hamilton.  My hope would definitely be to keep him.”

On The Field And Condition:  ”Matt Rollins was above and beyond this season.  It was not just us, it was the visiting teams commenting on the shape the field was in. Because of the weather, we easily could have lost a few more games this year, but due to his ability to forecast the weather and be on top of things, but also once the weather hit to deal with it effectively.”

So on paper, 2012 was not the best season in Scrappers baseball history, but it was filled with memorable moments, franchise firsts, and milestones.

Game Summary:  Sever hits a three-run triple in the eighth, the improving bullpen comes through and holds off Auburn, Scrappers win!

 

 

Scrappers Hobbling Toward Finish Line, Swept By Batavia

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Batavia completed a three-game sweep of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Wednesday night with a 6-2 win.  Two Penn-League All-Star pitchers started the game –  Jacob Lee for the Scrappers and Tyler Melling for the Muckdogs, in what would have been billed as a classic pitcher’s duel.

The offenses did away with the whole pitching dominance theory and combined to put up seven runs in the first three innings.

Batavia scored three in the first and two more in the third to nab a 5-0 lead.  Triples by  Steve Ramos and Patrick Wisdom off of Lee led to Batavia runs.

Mahoning Valley pushed back in the bottom of the third.  Erik Gonzalez reached via error and two outs later, Joe Wendle singled.  Joe Sever (below) knocked both Scrappers in to make it a 5-2 game.

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Lee would finish the third inning for the Scrappers.  Geoffrey Davenport took over and struck out the side in the fourth looking really sharp.  He also struck out two of three in the fifth.  Davenport ended up throwing 3 – 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in his best appearance to date.

Meanwhile, the Scrapper offense continued to sputter.The Scrappers would finish the game with four hits, Wendle with two of them.

Defensively, Hunter Jones may have made the catch of the year.  Jacob Wilson hit a ball into the right-centerfield gap in the top of the ninth inning.  Jones came streaking to his right and dove catching a ball that looked to be past him with full-body extension.

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Unfortunately, the winner of a baseball game is the team that scores the most runs.  The pattern lately has been that the Scrappers are on the wrong end of that spectrum.

As 2012 winds down, individual performances and efforts may overshadow team accomplishments.  In Mahoning Valley’s case, there are still plenty of good prospects on the team, and someone here can still impact the Indians organization in the future.

 

Scrappers Doubleheader Results In Two Losses

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are winding down 2012 with a final home stand.  The series against Batavia was delayed a day due to inclement weather, so two games of the seven inning variety would be squeezed into Tuesday.  Sometimes the rain would be welcome, but on Tuesday, no such luck, twice.

In the first game, the Scrappers got beat 6-2.  Jake Sisco took the loss for the Scrappers.  Highly touted Indians prospect, Dorssys Paulino (above), made his home debut a memorable one with a couple of hits.  Joe Wendle and Evan Frazar also chipped in with two hits each.

Reggie Williams provided the big blow in the fourth inning when he connected for his first home run of the season off of Sisco.  The bomb Williams hit made it 4-2 and the Muckdogs never looked back.

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Joe Cuda picked up the victory in game one for Batavia.  Cuda pitched five innings and scattered eight hits, walking none and striking out five.  With the win, Cuda improved to 7-1.

In the second game, Luis DeJesus pitched well for the Scrappers, and so did Muckdog starter Ben O’Shea.  Both starters put up zeroes through five innings.  In the sixth with one mighty swing of the bat, Danny Stienstra untied the game with a solo shot to left.  That was all it would take for the seven inning, 1-0, Batavia win.

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After the game, Scrapper Charlie Valerio was promoted to Lake County.  Valerio compiled a good season offensively for the Scrappers finishing up with five home runs, 35 RBI’s in 53 games, and showed good defensive versatility at first and behind the plate.  Valerio has leader potential and was respected by his coaches and teammates as a spark plug.

Good luck Charlie!

The Scrappers and Muckdogs meet again on Wednesday at Eastwood Field.

Katie Hohmann, Ali Viola Lead Soccer Past Buffalo, 1-0, First 3-0 Start

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Freshman Katie Hohmann scored her first career goal and junior goalkeeper Ali Viola posted her second shutout of the season to lead the Youngstown State women’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over Buffalo on Tuesday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.

The Penguins improve to 3-0 for the first time in school history while Buffalo falls to 1-2-1 on the season.

Hohmann collected a rebounded shot from teammate Chelsey Haney and planted a shot in the back of the net for the match’s only goal at the 36:20 mark of the first half.

Hohmann also became the fifth different player to score a goal for the Guins this season.

Viola posted a season-high nine save, including a game-clinching, diving save after a header by Buffalo’s Kristin Markiewicz that nearly tied the match.

Viola, who moved into a tie for third all-time with four career shutouts, face a barrage of attacks from the Bulls – a total of 18 shots, including five shots on goal in the first half and four in the second half.

The Guins host Canisius, Friday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m.

Pitt RB Isaac Bennett Talks About Facing Youngstown State Saturday

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When Youngstown State opens their season Saturday at Pittsburgh, Isaac Bennett (above) should see plenty of playing time for the Panthers.  The Panthers big horse, senior Ray Graham, is questionable, opening the door for Bennett to get some quality chances.  He relishes the opportunity as much as the Penguins relish the chance to play a quality school in a beautiful setting, Heinz Field.

Pitt is a program undergoing a major transition, a new head coach, which means a whole new system.  Paul Chryst and Eric Wolford coached together at the University of Illinois.  Wolford thinks Chryst is a good fit for the Panthers and was very respectful in his comments about his peer.

“Coach Chryst had tremendous success at Wisconsin.  He was at Illinois while I was there.  He was a great hire for the University of Pittsburgh and I think he will do a great job there”, said Wolford.

Wolford knows that even if Graham does not see much game action, Pitt has other weapons that could do damage.

“You jump into the Pitt backfield, and you have a stable of running backs as good as anyone in the Top-25.  Graham, Bennett, and Shell are all very talented backs.”

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Bennett (above) is a 5’11″ 205lb. sophomore who runs hard.  As a true freshman, Bennett racked up 237 rushing yards on 58 carries with two touchdowns.  He was initially slated to be redshirted, but when Graham went down for the season, Bennett was forced into action.  He shared his views about facing Youngstown State this Saturday via telephone.

We are looking at this game like any other game.  We do not see it as a small school versus a big school game“, said Bennett.  ”We know that Youngstown State is fast on defense and I will be curious as to whether or not I can break one against that speed.”

On his new coach, Bennett remarked “Coach Chryst has been fun.  He has two sides and can be real serious, but has a sense of humor that allows us to have fun too.  He is very down to Earth.”

When asked whether or not the big school should destroy the small school in one of these games, Bennett was politically correct with his answer.

“It is going to be a lot of fun in front of a big crowd”, said the running back.  ”I don’t have any prediction and we have not been able to exploit any big weakness in their [YSU's] defense.  They look good against the run and we know how fast they are.  We look forward to the challenge.”

The Time Is Now For YSU Football Penguins

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The time has finally come… Game Week…  In reality, it is the last opener for a good Senior class that includes Jamaine Cook, Will Shaw, Aronde Stanton, and D.J. Main, just to name a few.

In the past, a game like the one YSU has coming up this Saturday, at Pitt,  was simply seen as a beating that a smaller school would hope to leave healthy, unable to have any say so about the outcome, and sign a fat DI paycheck for showing up.

This year, the competitive juices are flowing like never before under the watchful eye of Eric Wolford.  Now in his third year, Wolford seems poised to deliver on his promise that there is no acceptable outcome other than to win championships.

“The strength of this football team is the chemistry”, said Wolford.  ”We don’t have too many selfish guys and our work ethic has been where it should be.  We have a confident group.”

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Kyle Bryant is one of the Penguins who has made an impact at camp and will see some time, possibly at the expense of Andrew Radakovich.

“Kyle Bryant is pushing him [Radakovich], commented Wolford.  ”Bryant stepped in when Radak got hurt, then he had an issue with his knee and Radak came in and played well, so we figured whoever plays the best will start next week, there is nothing like competition.”

One of last year’s experiments, was moving Will Shaw from linebacker to the other side of the ball, at tight end.  It has been a good move as Shaw has been productive and will surely be heard from this season.

“I am real confident this year”, said Shaw.  ”I had the Spring and camp to work out the kinks and have had a full year to prepare.  I have a really good feel about this offense and where we are going.  As long as we keep focusing on the little things and try to get better every day, we will be fine.”

YSU Soccer Jumps To 2-0 Start

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Junior Rachel Morrison scored her first career goal just 12 seconds after Robert Morris knotted the match at 2-2 and lifted the Youngstown State women’s soccer team to a 3-2 victory over the Colonials on Friday evening.

With the win, the Penguins improve to 2-0 for the first time since 1999, while Robert Morris falls to 0-3.

Sophomore Cara Armstrong gave the Guins a 1-0 lead at the 13:38 mark after blasting a shot into the upper right corner of the goal from a pass from junior Allison Ludwig. It marked Armstrong’s first career goal.  Robert Morris tied the game at 1-1 at the 25:03 mark when a shot by RMU’s Lauren Sulkowski bounced past YSU goalkeeper Ali Viola.

Just 10 minutes into the second half, sophomore Chelsey Haney put the Guins ahead, 2-1, on a breakaway shot into the left side of the goal after a long pass from freshman Shannon Leghart.

The Colonials tied the match at 2-2 when Alex Sarsfield lauched a 45-yard shot over Viola’s head and into the net with at the 64:22 mark.  Morrison took the ensuing kickoff and dribbled through the Colonials defense and buried the game-winning goal at the 64:34 mark of the second half.

The Penguins host Buffalo, Tuesday, Aug. 28, in the 2012 home opener at 3 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.

YSU Volleyball Picks Up First Win, Much Improved

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The Youngstown State volleyball team hit .253 as a team and got double-doubles from Missy Hundelt and Jenna Cavanaugh to defeat McNeese State in five sets on Saturday at the Spartan Showcase.

The Penguins won the first two sets 25-17 and 25-22, and they had to rally in the fifth to win 15-13. The victory was the first for YSU in 2012 and the first for Mark Hardaway as the Penguins’ head coach.

Hundelt finished with 17 kills and 13 digs while hitting at a .359 clip, and the junior right-side hitter earned all-tournament team honors for her efforts. Cavanaugh posted a career high with 11 kills, and her 10 blocks were the most by a YSU player since Ruth Boscaljon had 10 at Pittsburgh in 2009.

“I’m very happy that we pulled out the win,” Hardaway said. “We played inconsistently, and McNeese State came after us hard and played very smart. We have a lot of work to do to get to where we need to be, but there were a lot of positives this weekend to build on.”

 

Mahoning Valley Scrappers Profiles: Tyler Naquin

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Tyler Naquin was chosen first by the Cleveland Indians in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft.  Naquin excelled at Texas A & M and earned the distinction to be chosen so high.  A humble student of the game, Naquin always signs autographs whether he had an 0-5 night or hit well.  His maturity and his poise may be his greatest asset at this early level of his career, but what seems to make him special is how humble he remains.

Paneech:  Playing at Texas A & M, did you develop a way to communicate with Spanish-speaking teammates that may help you converse with the Scrappers who don’t speak good English?

Naquin:  To be honest, we only had one Domincan and one Spanish kid on my team, so I really wasn’t around it.  At College Station, there are a lot of students but I wasn’t around that problem much.  Here, you start understanding what they are saying to you  and find ways.  The communication has not been as big of a problem as I thought it may have been.

Paneech:  From personal observance, I see national separation, the Dominicans kind of stick together and the college players stick together.  Is this something that you think goes away after a couple of years of being so tightly intertwined?

Naquin:  I believe it get easier.  We are starting to understand each other and there is effort on both sides to close that gap.  They want to learn our language and we want to learn as much as we can about their language.  We are coaching and teaching each other as much as we can.

 

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Paneech:  I noticed in your last few games, a real effort to hit the ball into left field, not an easy task for a left-handed batter.   Is that something the Indians are asking you to get better with or are you just taking an outside pitch that way?

Naquin:  I just hit what I am given.  If they keep pitching me outside, I will keep taking the ball to left.  If they want to come in, I can pull it, but I have been seeing a lot of outside pitches.  Pitchers like to live on the outside corner, but I like pitches from the middle of the plate out.

Paneech:  I have seen you throw out a couple of runners at home plate.  Is your arm your best attribute as a pro so far?

Naquin:  I try to show it when I can, but I think that hitting is still my best quality.  It definitely helps swing the momentum and you could win a game by a run because of a good defensive play.  It is something I take a lot of pride in, trying to throw the ball long, hard, and flat.

Paneech:  You are very close with your family.  How hard is it to be divided from that lifestyle you grew up with?

Naquin:  It is tough in a way, but my love for my family and my girlfriend are unconditional.  They have all made their way up here when they could.  At first, it is odd, but I know that they will all be home waiting on me.  They understand that I have to do this and that this is a job now.

Paneech:  What is the best advice you have gotten so far at this level?

Naquin:  Just to take it one day at a time and to be patient.  Everyone wants to hit.300 or .350, but you will always have the next day.  You are going to wake up the next day and hit again.  It’s a grind here though.  You really have to take care of your body and get enough sleep.

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Paneech:  I see you in the dugout and it looks like you are genuinely having a good time.  Comment on the experiences that make this fun.

Naquin:  I am getting a lot of money to play this game, how could you not have fun?  I don’t want to sit behind a desk for 45 years, I would much rather be doing this.  My family, my girlfriend, and my friends are really enjoying watching me.  Money comes and goes, that is an accolade of putting in the hard work.  God has put me in this position and given me the opportunity.

Paneech:  Because you grew up in Texas, were you a Jeff Bagwell fan growing up?  Who did you watch and emulate?

Naquin:  I had a Ken Griffey Jr. jersey,and I liked [Josh] Hamilton, [Craig] Biggio and Bagwell, but in maybe a selfish way I was different.  If I went to a big league game I could care less about getting an autograph.  Even though I was only 13 or 14 years old, I knew I wanted to be that guy, not chasing autographs but rather signing them.  I definitely look up to those guys, but the flame and drive I have is to be better than they were.

Paneech:  You are that guy in a way now.  Kids are screaming your name for autographs already.  Is the same kid asking you for a bat every night getting old?

Naquin:  If it makes a kids day to get a Tyler Naquin autograph, then I am going to sign his baseball.  You live everyday as the best person you can be and put yourself in favorable situations.  I like seeing a kid smile and I will continue to sign as long as I am playing.  It is the right thing to do.  Good fans will carry you a long way and Joe [Wendle] and Charlie [Valerio] are that way too.

Paneech:  Are you superstitious?

Naquin:  I am superstitious.  It is all about feeling good.  My dad always tells me if you look good and feel good, you are going to play good.  One of my things is brushing my teeth.  I have to brush my teeth before every game.  I have a little routine where I have to take an extra swing in the batters box.  It helps me time the pitcher.  I like to level the dirt in he batters box.

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One Word Answers

Favorite Meal of The Day:  Dinner.

Fast Food Order:  Taco Bell ~~Bean burrito, no onions, a double decker, two crunchy tacos, and Mountain Dew.

Best Movie Ever Made?  Talladega Nights.

Biggest Phobia:  Snakes.

Worst Habit:  Forgetting Stuff.

Song No One Would Believe Is On Your ipod: Fergilicious.

What Sport If Not Baseball?  Probably football.

If there were no sports, what would you do?  I would be a rancher.  I like to breed animals and genetics.  My girlfriend is passionate about horses, so I would try to put something together on a big piece of property.

Eastwood Field Delivers Fantastic 2012 New York-Penn League All-Star Game

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The 2012 New York-Penn League All-Star Game was all that and more.  Eastwood Field hosted the contest for the first time and after a one hour rain delay, and a hustling grounds crew, there was a baseball game.  The National League won the game, 6-1, in a contest that seemed to showcase pitching.

“It has been a lot of fun”, said AL Manager Ted Kubiak.  ”Before the game, we told these young men to play.  There were no signs, no set plays, just get up there and hit.  They are all here for a reason and there was quite a bit of talent on that field tonight.”

Kubiak said before the game that the five Mahoning Valley Scrappers that were named to the team would get in early.  The three position players would go four innings and the two pitchers would hurl the first and second innings.

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How the Scrappers did:

Luis DeJesus – Started the game for the American League team and pitched a scoreless first inning without giving up a hit.  He struck out one batter.

Jacob Lee – Pitched the second inning for the American League team, also a scoreless and hitless frame.  Lee (above) struck out two of the three batters that he faced.

Charlie Valerio – Started the game as the American League catcher.  Valerio batted second and grounded out to first in the first inning.  In the third, Valerio grounded out.

Joe Wendle – Started the game at third base for the American League team.  In his first at-bat, Wendle struck out.  Wendle singled in his second at-bat.   He was thrown out at secnd to start a double play.

Joe Sever – Stated the game at DH for the American League All-Stars.  Sever singled in his first at-bat and advanced to second on a wild pitch.  Sever was stranded there however.  In his second at-bat, Sever struck out.

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The game itself:

The National League scored the first run of the game.  Consecutive broken bat singles by Patrick Wisdom and Juancito Martinez put runners at first and third with one out.  Breyvic Valera hit a long sac fly to center to make it 1-0 in favor of the National League team.

Estarlin Martinez doubled to start the fifth and scored when Juancito Martinez singled.  Juancito then stole third and catcher Sam Kimmel sailed the throw into left field allowing Martinez to jog home and make it a 3-0 advantage for the National League.

Roman Quinn had an inside-the-park home run in the eighth inning to make it 4-0.  Quinn showed terrific speed whizzing around the bases before crossing the plate uncontested.  The Nationals tacked on four in the ninth.

The American League got on the board in the bottom of the ninth on a Tyler Hanover home run to very deep left field to close the scoring.

The entire Scrappers staff did a phenomenal job putting the game and everything it entails together.  One Scrapper staff member who could be nominated for the MVP would be Matt Rollins (above).  The head groundskeeper battled the elements all day in getting the field in near mint condition.  Big pat on the back to him and his staff.