Posts Tagged ‘David Wallace’
On what has become an annual gathering at Eastwood Field, Baseball Brawl, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers rose to the challenge and body slammed the Jamestown Jammers. The opportunistic Scrappers racked up nine hits and outscored the Jammers 9-2 in front of a great Sunday crowd of 3,550.
Jamestown got on the scoreboard in their first at-bat. Elvis Araujo (below) made his first start for Mahoning Valley. Araujo was 9-1 at Arizona before being promoted by the Scrappers. Eddie Rodriguez drove home a pair of runners with a two-out single.
Mahoning Valley took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the inning. Francisco Lindor, the #1 Draft Pick of the Cleveland Indians, made his professional debut Sunday. The 17-year old prospect got his first hit, an infield bleeder that was good for a single. Jake Lowery then doubled and Jordan Smith walked to load the bases. Todd Hankins doubled home Linder and Lowery to tie the game. Alex Lavisky grounded out to third but got an RBI when Smith trotted home for a 3-2 Scrappers lead.
Mahoning Valley added two runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-2 lead. Lavisky singled and would score from first on a Jerrud Sabourin triple. John Barr knocked in Sabourin from third with a clean single to give the Scrappers the three-run lead.
Will Krasne picked up the win in relief of Araujo, who threw four complete innings before exiting. Krasne was relieved by Drew Rucinski and Ramon Cespedes. Thomas Peale took the loss for the Jammers, giving up 5 runs in five innings.
The Scrappers added two more runs in the seventh to take a 7-2 lead. Bryson Myles walked and Tony Wolters singled. Lowery plated Myles with a single and Hankins hit a sac fly to bring in the hustling Wolters from third.
Lindor (above) went 1-3 in his pro debut. The highly-touted youngster played confidently and may have been trying to do too much, but was focused during his five innings.
The Scrappers added insurance in the bottom of the eighth. Cody Elliott was hit by a pitch and Sabourin walked. John Barr doubled home Elliott on a bloop double that found a home just inside the right field line. Then the wild pitching exhibit took place when Jamestown reliever, Blake Brewer, walked a couple and hit another to give the Scrappers a 9-2 lead
Jordan Taylor is in his first season as the General Manager of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The very quiet and reserved Taylor is someone I have gotten to know better over the past three years. If intelligence counts for anything, he is winning big. Probably one of the smartest minds I have met in the world of sports, Taylor has done a great job in his rookie season at the helm. I recently spoke with him about everything from his love of professional wrestling to trusting those working around him.
Paneech: Year one, first shot at being the head honcho, how are things going so far?
Taylor: It has been going real well so far. The team is playing well and things have been falling into place in my first year.
Paneech: You worked under Dave Smith for a few years, and those are big shoes to fill. What kind of experience did you get as Assistant General Manager?
Taylor: Dave was here when I got hired a little over ten years ago. I learned under him for ten seasons as I worked my way up the ranks. It was great to learn from someone who is a real professional in this industry. He was very good in letting me in on the runnings of the business over the last few years. That kind of activity really prepared me for where I am now.
Paneech: What has been the biggest challenge in managing people?
Taylor: It is about being able to manage such a diverse group of people. We currently have nine full-time people on staff, and then we bring in 30 interns and over 100 game day employees. It is a challenge managing all of the different personalities that are brought in. I am pretty even-tempered, so I can tolerate and handle many of the situations that arise. It has been pretty smooth so far.
Paneech: It seems like you and the other nine full-time employees are a very close-knit group. Describe how cohesively you all function as a unit.
Taylor: I think we have the best staff in the New York-Penn League. In terms of years of experience from the top down, most of the front office personnel have been here for a long time. Everybody likes each other, and that is important, because this is not a normal work environment. Over the Summers, we have spent more time with each other than we have with our families. This becomes your family for the Summer and you get very close and care about each other.
Paneech: The season ends in September and starts back up in June, what do you do in the time in between seasons?
Taylor: It is busier in the off-season for some than it is during the season. In September, we get the stadium ready to be shut down. After that is done we start focusing on the next season. We start selling season tickets, mini-plans, groups, promotions, and really getting everything moving. It is not the same hours as we put in during the season, but we are working hard to make sure when the season eventually starts, that we are ready for everything. People take time off in October and September.
Paneech: How has the support been from the Cleveland Indians?
Taylor: Our relationship with the Indians has been very strong and I feel very comfortable working with them. Working with this coaching staff has also been great this season. I couldn’t ask for a better manager than David Wallace and his coaching staff. They make things easier for me and have been very accommodating.
Paneech: Like myself, you enjoy professional wrestling. How do you set that kind of promotion up?
Taylor: The system is kind of two-tiered. When we bring a wrestler in for just an autograph signing, we will go through a promoter who specializes in minor league sports and used to work for the WWE. He recommends a group of four or five wrestlers that would be accessible to us and we pick who we think will generate the most interest. The second phase is the actual post-game wrestling card. It is more involved. We work with a promotion that does events all over the country based out of Ohio. He [promoter] has a lot of contacts of current and former stars. He will give us a list and we offer suggestions. In this case, Mick Foley coming this year is a real step up. The last show had Scott Steiner, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine. This year we were not only able to get Foley, but also Jimmy Hart and Al Snow.
Paneech: Who is your all-time favorite wrestler?
Taylor: I have two. Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels are my all-time favorites. Both of them are really good with cutting promos and have good matches in the ring. I also like ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
Paneech: What would you be doing if not this?
Taylor: The sports industry is something I wanted to get into at a very young age. I would still be involved with sports at some capacity. I could see myself teaching and coaching baseball or basketball. If I wasn’t doing this, that would have been the way I would have gone.
Paneech: How tricky is it to balance family entertainment from kid-related promotions? You go from dollar beers and Lisa Neeld to Boy Scout Night.
Taylor: We try to offer something for everybody. The Thursday dollar beer night promotion has a younger adult demographic. That’s great, but those who drink hang out in the picnic area and that kind of leaves the rest of the stadium for everyone else. It keeps the crowd a little compartmentalized. You have to remember, there are dollar tickets, pop, and hot dogs, so we can draw families to the same game. We also have mascot nights and giveaway nights, but our biggest demo is geared toward families, parents and kids, or grandparents and grandchildren. It is a great family atmosphere.
One Word Answers
Favorite Movie: Bull Durham.
Favorite Non-Sports Movie: Animal House.
Best Subject In College: American History.
Fast Food Order: Chipotle – Burrito with chicken rice and all of the salsas.
Favorite Meal: Dinner because even when I am here, my wife is nice enough to cook for me.
Favorite TV Show: The Office.
Favorite Music: Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.
Favorite Cartoon Character: Bart Simpson.
Player You Got Closest To: Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Biggest Phobia: Flying.
Worst Habit: (laughs) I can sleep a lot.
Who Is Next If You Go? Honestly? I would be confident with about six people that are on staff right now. I’m not ducking the question, but any number of people can take over.
“My hope is that we can continue the level of success that has been laid out here. We want to always continue the tradition of providing the area great entertainment on and off of the field. I am fortunate because I get to come to a baseball field to work.” – Jordan Taylor
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers welcomed a tough Brooklyn Cyclones team to Eastwood Field. Unfortunately for the Scrappers, they came out on the wrong side of a 10-6 verdict. The Scrappers were hurt by some very good Brooklyn hitting in the early innings and never gained enough footing in the loss, surrendering four of the runs on wild pitches that went to the backstop.
In the first inning, the Scrappers raced out to a 1-0 lead. Bryson Myles and Tony Wolters hit identical singles up the middle. Coach David Wallace, always a risk taker on the bags, pulled off a double steal. Jake Lowery then hit a fielders choice that got Wolters home for the early lead, which marked the only time the Scrappers would be ahead.
Brooklyn rebounded and rattled off six unanswered runs and took a 6-1 lead by the time they were done batting in the sixth. The Cyclones got two of the runs when runners on third base advanced home on wild pitches. Richard Lucas had the big shot in the fifth with a two-run double. Brooklyn would also score their eighth run on a wild pitch.
The Scrappers clawed back into the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Alex Lavisky had a two-run double that broke the offensive struggles for the home team. Todd Hankins also knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly. Brooklyn avoided further damage and held a 6-4 lead going into the last third of the game.
The fun stuff started happening in the sixth inning. Celebrating my birthday at Eastwood Field doesn’t bother me one bit, in fact, I welcome the atmosphere. Scott Hansen, someone who I can call a friend, runs the line portion of the scoreboard and knew it was my birthday. Hansen told the people doing the birthday stuff and they put Paneech from Paneech dot com on the scoreboard, wishing me a Happy Birthday. Hansen and I always buy $5 worth of 50/50 tickets every home game. Going into Friday, we were 0-114. We happened to hit. 1-115. Rob Schmidt was sick of saying my name.
Scrappers starter Mason Radeke only went two innings throwing just under 50 pitches. Harold Guerrero took the loss in relief. Nate Striz uncorked four wild pitches and didn’t finish the eighth inning. Will Krasne relieved Striz to finish things up for Mahoning Valley.
Brooklyn got a decent start out of Carlos Vazquez, who picked up the win for the Cyclones. Frank Viola, a World Series MVP for the Twins in 1987, is the Cyclones pitching coach.
Hankins (above) finished the game 1-3 with two RBI’s and a stolen base. Tony Wolters chipped in with a pair of hits, as did Bryson Myles and Lavisky. Jerrud Sabourin also collected a pair of knocks for the Scrappers.
The Scrappers (32-23) and Cyclones (31-24) go at it again for two more games on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, the league takes two days off for the annual All-Star Break. The All-Star Game will be played in Lowell, home of the Spinners. Wolters and Myles join Jordan Smith and Danny Jimenez as NY Penn League All-Stars.
“I was really happy with Bryson Myles tonight”, said Wallace. ”He continues to find ways to get on base and has had some really good at-bats. I am also happy with Jerrud Sabourin, he had a couple of big hits but worked deep into the count a couple of times and put the bat on the ball.”
Just one night after a defensive collapse, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers regrouped and took care of business with a 5-3 win over the Auburn Doubledays. The win pulls the Scrappers into a first place tie with the Doubledays in the Pinckney Division with identical records of 29-20. Rob Nixon threw six good innings and the bullpen worked hard to keep Auburn at bay.
The game was delayed an hour by rain, and a good crowd of 2,000 plus stuck around to watch the Scrappers battle back to claim victory. This was the second game of the two-game series. Auburn won last nights game with the assistance of seven Scrappers errors.
Coach David Wallace said after that game that his players were probably embarrassed by their performance and that he probably would not address the problem. Saturday’s result being much different, Wallace claimed afterwards that he stuck to his original plan. ”It took care of itself. I was paying attention to how the guys would react today and how they were coming into the clubhouse, and just as I expected, they moved on, and that was evident in the way they played tonight.”
Nixon (above) threw six strong innings for the Scrappers for his fifth win, putting him in a tie for the most wins in the league. He is a great location pitcher, sort of a Greg Maddux-type who will not overpower hitters, but locates his pitches and lets his defense do the work. Drew Rucinski started the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Enosil Tejeda came in to start the ninth and slammed the door for his team-leading seventh save as he struck out all three Doubledays batters he faced with some dominant pitching, a big change in contrast from Nixon.
“He didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he battled through it”, said Wallace of Nixon’s performance. ”He used the defense tonight. A lot of guys nibble and nibble and get walks. He was not afraid to challenge guys and trusted his defense, and that is how he got through six innings and picked up the win.”
Auburn tallied the first run on a Matt Skole RBI single that drove home leadoff hitter Caleb Ramsey. Mahoning Valley went ahead 2-1 in the bottom half of the first inning. With two outs, Jake Lowery and Jordan Smith were issued back-to-back walks. Red-hot Todd Hankins (top photo) then tripled in both Scrappers base runners with a gapper to right-center. Hankins would trot home a couple of pitches later on a wild pitch from Doubledays starter, Nathan Karns, who took the loss. Auburn cut the lead to 3-2 in the second when Justin Miller tripled and would later score on a Billy Burns sac fly.
In the third, the Scrappers reclaimed the two-run lead to go ahead 4-2. Tony Wolters, who had the rare “feat” of being hit in each foot during two separate at-bats scored on a Jordan Smith (above) single. Auburn again cut the lead to 1 with a run in the fifth. Mahoning Valley again responded in the bottom of the fifth when they closed out the scoring, forging ahead, 5-3. It was a duplication of their last run as Wolters was hit in the other foot and Smith drove one through for his second RBI.
These two teams will both be on their respective buses headed to Auburn for about five hours. ETA is set for about 5 a.m. and they will face off for two more in Auburn on Sunday and Monday to decide which team will walk away in first place.
Cleveland Indians fans, meet Tony Wolters. He is a shortstop who is doing it with, both, the glove and the bat for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Wolters missed time last season due to injury after being selected by the Indians in the third round of the 2010 Draft. So far in 2011, he has not disappointed. Hustle and dedication are two intangibles that cannot be taught. Wolters runs out every ball, no matter how routine of a play it looks like. He is a quiet guy with a big smile who signs plenty of autographs for the fans after home games. Learn the name, he is Cleveland’s shortstop of the future.
Paneech: Growing up in California, were you a Padres, Dodgers, Giants, or Angels fan?
Wolters: I was a Padre fan. We use to constantly go to the games when they used to play at Qualcom Park. My dad would always get tickets in the outfield right on the edge, those were his favorites. The first player I was always watching was Tony Gwynn. I try to pattern myself after him from a hitting standpoint. My dad always tells me a 180-foot hit will get you there, keep doing those. So Gwynn was my idol. I was amazed with Khalil Greene at shortstop because he made some special plays and I tried to mock him and even went as far as wearing my pants the way he did, and I grew my hair out because he had long hair. I liked Mark Loretta a lot too while he was there. Once they moved to Petco, we started going there too. I actually got to play at Petco for the Afflac game, it was an awesome and great experience for me.
Paneech: When you are here in Niles, Ohio, there is about a six foot radius around the mall with some nice restaurants but no beach, no Disney, no mountains. There isn’t really as much to do, does that free your mind to think baseball?
Wolters: I love the game of baseball and feel truly lucky to play every day. If I strike out, I get mad, but then I think myself down that I am so, so lucky to be doing what I am doing on a day-to-day basis. Baseball was my first sport, I also played hockey, and very little, but some soccer. Hockey was my first sport and then I fell in love with baseball. It came easy, but as I progress it gets harder. I have to get in the right mindset everyday and find my swing. I love the challenge and feel like over the next few years, I want to develop into the best possible player that I can become.
Paneech: Coach Wallace and others before him say that this is a developmental league and the wins are nice but winning and losing are outweighed by progress of individual players. What are your feelings on winning versus going 0-5 in a win?
Wolters: All of the players on this team want to win. A lot of it is development, as far as learning how to be a winner at this level. When we lose, nobody should have a smile on their face and be goofing around. We want to win. We want to get to the playoffs and win the whole thing. We see it as getting better everyday, and secondly, winning as a team.
Paneech: You are in the 2011 Bowman Baseball Card Set. How do you get into that process and are there other contracts for you?
Wolters: It all goes through my agent, and I really don’t know all of the aspects of it. Every year you have a card that comes out at some level. At extended Spring training, I took about five hours to autograph the cards of myself as part of the agreement. (** Bowman Baseball inserted autographs into packs randomly in 2011. There are 500 Wolters Autos, plus 150 Blue, and 50 Gold randomly inserted in the whole print run**). The other contracts, I can’t really talk about right now.
Paneech: Last year you were injured and missed a lot of time. What was going through your mind when you were drafted by the Indians?
Wolters: I was at breakfast and missed school that day. I wasn’t expecting a call or anything and was kind of sad. My dad looks at his phone and says ‘hey, you just got drafted by the Cleveland Indians’. I was like ‘really?’ Right after that, I got a call from the scout. I was really not expecting the Indians to pick me. Ironically, I played for a team called the Indians when I was in Little League, and my father just happened to be wearing his old Indians shirt. The Cleveland Indians were like the only team in the majors that I didn’t talk to much before the draft. It was kind of a boring Summer. I did go play for Team USA in 2010. When I first got to Arizona, I was so excited, and I am loving it right now.
Paneech: What is it like playing for Coach Wallace and Coach Mansolino?
Wolters: It is awesome. They both know so much about baseball. I have learned so much physically, as well as, mentally. I am working hard on my mental side and they are guiding me through it. CoachWallace always comes to me and drops pointers of things that I need to work on. Coach Manso has done good things for my hitting. We butt heads sometimes, but that is how you learn. They haven’t coached much, but I feel like they have.
Paneech: Sometimes when you bat, you lay the bat across the box (above), is it alignment or superstition?
Wolters: I am measuring how far I am from the plate. If I don’t see where I step in, I do it. I am very superstitious. If I have a bad game, I can’t wear the same sliders, and I have to wear different socks, different things on my wrists, or rearrange the order of what is on my wrists. I have to go out earlier to change the rhythm. I do everything different until the right combination of things work, and if they work, I stick with them. If they don’t then I change things some more.
Paneech: So if you go five-for-five tonight, what time do I have to come back and interview you tomorrow?
Wolters: (laughs) You are totally obligated to do that.
** Wolters went 5-6, and was 5-5 until his last at-bat the day of this game.
One Word Answers
Favorite Meal of The Day: Dinner.
Favorite Thing To Drink: Always Water.
Favorite TV Show: ESPN Sportscenter.
Favorite College Football Team: USC.
Favorite Baseball Team Still The Padres? I can’t say that (laughs).
Musical Preference: Starting to like Country.
Song on Your ipod That People Would Be Surprised By: Baby by Justin Bieber.
Best Friend On The Team: Jake Lowery.
Favorite Candy: Sour Patch Kids.
Fast Food Order: Chipotle, Chicken Burrito with rice, no beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and medium salsa.
Favorite Cartoon Character: Tasmanian Devil.
** Top Photo Courtesy of Jesse Piecuch.
Just an hour into their game against the Auburn Doubledays, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers had to be scratching their heads and wondering who poisoned their food before the game. After three innings, the scoreboard pretty much told the story (above). The Scrappers played better after the first three disastrous innings but never got enough traction to get back into the game, ultimately losing, 10-1.
Auburn finished the game with ten hits and the Scrappers with seven errors. Tony Wolters had three of the errors and could not make the plays he has made all year at short. The fans sarcastically cheered in the seventh inning when Wolters made a routine play. Not to worry Indians and Scrappers fans, he is the real deal, he just had one of those nights.
Starter Danny Jimenez struggled with his control at times and when he was able to throw strikes, the Doubledays either found holes or were given gift base runners. Jimenez is a good pitcher and will have better starts. Not to worry Indians and Scrappers fans, he is the real deal, he just had one of those nights.
A heckler sitting right in front of the press box made the comment that if he wanted to see this style of baseball he would go home and watch little league. Haha… I think he was on the Muppet Show in the balcony twenty years ago and someone gave him a free ticket to the Scrappers game. The moral of the paragraph is that one night and one loss will not cripple this team. They will play harder tomorrow. Not to worry Indians and Scrappers fans, they are the real deal,they just had one of those nights.
David Wallace is too good of a manager and his support staff of Greg Hibbard and Tony Mansolino have been around long enough to convince a bunch of young guys that they are way better than they played. Wallace has preached to these guys all year not to look back and to develop not regress. He has the composure of someone who has been managing for decades, yet he is a rookie. Not to worry Indians and Scrappers fans, they are the real deal,they just had one of those nights.
Wallace (above), talked about his team’s uncharacteristic performance. ”They want to put this one behind themselves and forget about it pretty quick. It really was one of those nights. We got off to a bad start and it just snowballed on us. One thing I didn’t like was that if we are going to make mistakes, I want them to be aggressive mistakes. I think some of the mistakes we saw tonight were passive and that is what bothers me. There wasn’t much positive to take from this one. I think they were embarrassed out there tonight and they don’t need me to tell them about it.”
On the bright side, Scrappers pitchers recorded 12 strikeouts. RP Nate Striz had four strikeouts in relief, and Grant Sides struck out the side in the ninth.
These two teams meet again tomorrow night at Eastwood Field. Expect a much different result.
It started out as a pitchers duel between the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and the Staten Island Yankees on Buck Night. The fans, all 4,807 of them, were treated to a great defensive game (0 errors) and a pitching clinic by both teams. Cody Elliott (above) hit his first big-league home run to propel the Scrappers to a hard-fought 4-0 win over the Yankees on Betty White Night.
Scrappers starting pitcher, Will Roberts (below), threw 65 pitches covering six scoreless innings to pick up the win for the Scrappers. Roberts had good stuff and only allowed one hit , struck out four, and didn’t walk anyone. Not to be outdone, the Yankees Bryan Mitchell gave up only one hit through five, a single to red-hot Tony Wolters.
Roberts reflected on his first win. ”They [Staten Island] have some pretty big guys in their lineup. I knew coming in that I would have to throw quality strikes and felt like I was able to do that today. I felt awful warming up in the bullpen and I could not throw an off-speed pitch for a strike. Once I got my slider working, and was able to throw some quality curveballs, I was able to keep them off-balance, they were pretty aggressive.”
After walking Evan Frazar and surrendering a double down the first base line to John Barr, the Yankees pitching coach, Danny Borrell, made a trip to the mound, but opted to leave Mitchell in. Hindsight was 20/20, and Allen hit a scorcher to left-center that cleared the advertising banners to give the Scrappers a 3-0 lead.
Allen’s first homer was memorable. ”I ran hard because if it drops, I need to be on second or third. It felt great, anytime you can do something to help the team win, it always feels good. As my first home run, that makes it even better.”
The Scrappers tacked on another run in the sixth when Wolters walked after fighting back from an 0-2 count. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a Jake Lowery double to the alley in left-centerfield. Lowery’s double made it 4-0.
Cody Allen took the ball to start the seventh inning on the hill for Mahoning Valley. After allowing back-to-back singles to start the seventh, Allen was able to strike out the next two batters and record a pop-fly to escape harm.
The Scrappers are only the second team all year to defeat Staten Island in back-to-back games. The other streak of note was Jordan Smith‘s 18 consecutive home games with at least one hit. Smith batted in the bottom of the eighth with two outs, but walked, which unfortunately ends the roll.
Smith reflected on his streak. ”It’s not about me, it’s about the team. It is always fun to have a streak like that, but we won a big game and that is more important. It’s always good to win.”
Enosil Tejeda pitched the ninth inning to earn the save for Mahoning Valley.
The Scrappers, improving to 28-19 with the win, proved they are championship material against the Yankees, who dipped to 33-13. Come September, don’t be surprised to see these two teams lock up for a championship meeting.
David Wallace was praiseworthy of both Roberts and Allen. ”What Roberts did was impressive tonight. He was throwing his fastball both in and out and was able to throw off-speed pitches for strikes as well. When he has that mix going he is going to be tough to hit, I don’t care what level he is at. Cody [Elliott] has been giving us good at-bats no matter where we are putting him in the lineup. His two-strike approach has been very impressive. He has really looked comfortable in the box.”
Wallace also offered his opinion on Betty White Night. “I don’t know much about Betty White and I was wondering before the game what the obsession is with her lately. I have seen her on Saturday Night Live and she has a huge following, so good for her. ”
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers were firing on all cylinders against the team with the best record at their level. The Scrappers dominated Staten Island in every possible way en route to a 13-5 win. The Scrappers pounded out 13 hits as Tony Wolters (above) went 5-6 and Todd Hankins and Jerrud Sabourin each collected a pair of doubles in the barrage. Sabourin knocked in four.
“We went out and got hits in key situations tonight”, remarked Wolters after the game. ”They are a good team but we were a little better tonight. It feels awesome to be in first place, we are excited about it.”
The Scrappers scored in the first when Bryson Myles reached via error, and later scored on an error. They added a run in the second when Hankins doubled and scored on a Sabourin sac fly in the second. In the third the Scrappers plated four with Myles, Wolters, Jake Lowery, and Smith all scoring.
The floodgates opened in the bottom of the fourth. Myles reached on an error, Wolters singled, and Lowery walked. Jordan Smith then singled to extend his home hitting streak to 18 games. Cody Elliott then hit a sac fly, Alex Lavisky walked, and then Hankins hit an RBI double, followed by Sabourin hitting a two-run double.
Joseph Colon (above) threw 81 pitches in four innings of work for the Scrappers. Colon was only able to complete four innings but fought his way out of mostly every obstacle. He showed a lot of heart and got some run support departing with an 11-1 lead. Colon’s only mistake was a third-inning home run to Staten Island’s Ben Gamel. The beneficiary of Colon’s early exit was Will Krasne, in line to get a gift win. Krasne struggled, walking five in two-and-a-third innings, but ultimately got the job done to pick up the win.
The game got delayed 15 minutes due to inclement weather. The high scoring didn’t help the pace much. It was 9:35 p.m. after the sixth inning and the crowd of 2,345 was filing out with the outcome presumably decided.
Having interviewed Wolters before the game, I learned he was very superstitious. Claiming he changes everything when he has a subpar game – from his wristbands to his sliding pants to the time he eats, I kidded that if he went 5-5 that I would not be able to interview him every night. He just laughed and shrugged his shoulders.
“Same everything tomorrow, nothing will change”, said a joyous Wolters after his five hit gem.
David Wallace praised the effort of Wolters and Sabourin. ”Special night for Wolters. The way I look at it, it is the fruit of a lot of hard work. When he stays within himself, he is a great player. Jerrud [Sabourin] has really stepped up these last couple of weeks. He has been swinging a good bat all year without much reward, now he seems to just be hitting over their heads. If he keeps hitting like this, he will not be near the bottom of the order very long.”
Staten Island entered Tuesday’s contest against Mahoning Valley with the best record in the McNamara Division. Conversely, the Scrappers had the best record in the Pinckney Division. Something had to give as the two best teams faced off in game one of a three-game set. With a nasty storm brewing, the Yankees took control of a tie game in the eighth inning and got by Mahoning Valley, 7-4.
The Yankees wasted little time scoring the first run of the game, as leadoff hitter Mason Williams homered off of Scrappers starter, Mason Radeke (below). The next batter, Cito Culver, tripled into the right field corner. Culver trotted home on a passed ball to increase the Yankee lead to 2-0.
The Scrappers cut the margin in half in the bottom of the first inning. Tony Wolters scored on a Jordan Smith single. Smith extended his streak of getting a hit at every home game with the knock. Smith entered the game leading the league with a .352 batting average. The Scrappers took a 3-2 lead in the third inning when Wolters and Jake Lowery scored as a result of a Cody Elliott clean single.
The Yankees tied the game in the top of the fourth and took a lead of 4-3 in the fifth. The Scrappers tied the game back up in the bottom of the fifth. Alex Lavisky doubled and scored when Todd Hankins hit what looked like a routine fly that was dropped by the center fielder. Lavisky, hustling with two outs, scored easily from second on the gift.
At that point, pitching and defense kicked in for both teams. Nate Striz threw a couple of scoreless innings before Staten Island got to him in the eighth inning. A sacrifice fly by Ben Gamel put the Yankees ahead 5-4. Striz then threw to first to keep the baserunner, Culver, honest, but Lowery mishandled the throw allowing the Yankees shortstop a path all the way to third base. Grant Sides relieved Striz with two out in the eighth. Angelo Gumbs greeted Sides with a triple on a 1-0 count to deep center for an RBI and a 6-4 Staten Island lead.
Mason Williams was tough on Scrappers pitchers all night. The Yankees center fielder ended the game 3-5 with a HR and 2 RBI.
Striz took the loss for Mahoning Valley (26-19), and Fred Lewis picked up the win for Staten Island (33-11).
After the game, Scrappers Manager, David Wallace, talked about playing the team with the best record. ”It does make a difference when they [Staten Island] have some second and third year players. However, we just focus on getting better as individuals and as a team without worrying about who is on their team. They definitely made it happen, you can’t give them extra opportunities and we did tonight. They gave us some opportunities too, and we were unable to take advantage of them.”
On Glee night, modeled after the hit TV show, which incidentally is Wallace’s favorite program, I had to ask if he was paying more attention to the between-innings themed entertainment than he usually would. ”I heard and saw some stuff on the scoreboard, but have to admit I was pretty disappointed in some of the singing that I heard tonight. It looked like they were having a really good time with it.”
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers (22-17) celebrated Christmas in July in more than one way. In the spirit of Christmas, the Scrappers were in a giving mood committing four errors. Despite the generosity, Santa saved the day with some good bats he dumped down the Chimney of the Scrappers clubhouse, as the home team beat the Lowell Spinners, 5-3.
The Scrappers scored single runs in each of the first five innings. In the first, John Barr hit a potential inning-ending double play ball, but the ball was bobbled at second base allowing Cody Elliott to score from third. Aaron Siliga doubled in the second and scored on a Tony Wolters fielders choice to make it 2-0.
After giving up an unearned run in the top of the third, Alex Lavisky hit a bomb to deep left-center clearing both rows of advertising banners to make the score 3-1 in favor of the Scrappers. The Spinners retaliated in the top of the fourth when Seth Schwindenhammer homered off of starter Rob Nixon to cut the Mahoning Valley lead to 3-2.
In the fourth, Jordan Smith kept his streak of getting a hit in every home game alive with a single that scored Elliott (above) to give the Scrappers a 4-2 lead. Lowell SS Joantoni Garcia committed two errors in the fifth allowing the Scrappers to put another run up and take a 5-2 lead.
Cody Allen racked up seven strikeouts in three innings of scoreless relief for the Scrappers. Enosil Tejeda worked the ninth to earn his team-leading fifth save. Nixon is credited with a win for the Scrappers. Raynel Velette took the loss for the Spinners.
Tony Wolters (above) had another good night for the Scrappers going 2-4 with an RBI and a stolen base. Wolters commented on his progress. ”I am feeling great. I haven’t had to come and play every day until now, and I am still adjusting. I think we are all getting the hang of it and everyone is hitting great right now, we feel really great as a team.”
After the game, I joked with Manager David Wallace about his rare heckling of the umpires. Anyone who has met or talked with Wallace will agree that he usually has a smile on his face and a positive outlook no matter what. Wednesday, Wallace blew his cool and was almost ejected. Earlier in the season, he informed me that there is a pool where personnel are trying to figure out if and when the ejection will happen. If you said “never”, you are still in the pool, but it was close tonight.
“I did not do a very good job of controlling my temper tonight. This crew is learning just like we are here. I wasn’t trying to get thrown out, but I was on edge tonight for sure”, commented Wallace.
The Scrappers pitchers put up 14 strikeouts in the win. ”They [Lowell] have some good bats in that lineup and I was really happy with Nixon, Cody [Allen], and Enosil [Tejeda]. I thought we got ahead of the hitters in the counts which puts us in the drivers seat.”
When asked about the theme being Christmas in July at Eastwood Field, Wallace gave a great politically correct and honest answer. ”We definitely got a gift tonight, I don’t think it was our best effort. I guess we made one less mistake than they did. We will thank them for that gift. “