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Scrappers use soft hits to beat Cutters
July 24, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT
This wasn’t ripping a Band-Aid off in a quick and less painful manner. This was slow and painful.
Of the 17 hits Mahoning Valley had against Williamsport on Tuesday night, less than five were rocket shots. The rest, bleeders through the hole, flares off the end of the bat, seeing-eye singles.
It was torturous for a Williamsport pitching staff that has seen so much improvement in the last two weeks. Of course, the blasts from the Scrappers offense, an RBI double for Tyler Naquin and a two-run home run for Joe Wendle, hurt too.
Mahoning Valley closed out a two-game sweep of the Crosscutters last night, winning 9-3, collecting multiple hits in five innings and combining it with three pitchers who scattered six hits. Williamsport starter Nic Hanson allowed nine hits and seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, and Ramon Oviedo allowed eight hits in 3 1/3 as the Crosscutters fell to 12-24 this season.
“They threw some balls over the plate,” Cutters manager Andy Tracy said of his pitching staff.
Seven of the nine Mahoning Valley starters had at least two hits, and all nine starters had at least one hit. Naquin and Wendle were two of the biggest Cutter-bashers last night, and pretty much all season.
Naquin, the Cleveland Indians’ first-round pick this year, was 2 for 4 last night, including a two-out RBI double to the opposite field in a three-run third inning. Naquin is hitting .481 (13 for 27) against the Crosscutters this year with five RBIs.
Wendle, a West Chester University product, was 2 for 5 last night with a pair of runs batted in. He’s hitting .360 (9 for 25) with eight RBIs against Williamsport this year.
“They’ve been killing us all year. We have to make pitches,” Tracy said. “You can’t miss over the plate with these guys. They’re older hitters. They’ve very talented and they do damage.”
They keyed the Scrappers’ two-out rally in the third inning which came just after Williamsport had tied the game at 1-1. Hanson retired two of the first three in the inning, allowing just a single to nine-hole hitter Robel Garcia.
He was behind to Naquin, 1-0, when Naquin, a left-hand hitter, one-hopped the wall in left field over the head of Larry Greene Jr. Garcia, running on the hit with two outs, scored easily.
Two pitches later, Wendle put a charge into the ball to right field and a gusting wind helped carry it over the fence. Mahoning Valley scored its first four runs with two outs.
“Back-breakers. Two-out runs are back-breakers,” Tracy said. “We have to find a way to maintain the same intensity. Don’t let up with two outs.”
Trailing 1-0, Williamsport appeared poised to take the lead in the bottom of the second inning when it loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to singles from Chris Serritella (1 for 4) and Mitch Walding (2 for 3) and a walk from Brian Pointer. Zach Taylor grounded back to the mound and the Scrappers got an out at the plate for the first out.
Catcher Logan Moore, who is hitting .355 in his last 10 games, drove a ball to right field off the wall. But everybody moved up just one base and only Walding scored. Pointer had gone back to second base to tag up on the play and when Mahoning Valley right fielder Hunter Jones got the ball back to the infield quickly, each runner was only able to move up one base.
Scrappers starting pitcher Luis Morel got out of the jam with a strikeout on a fastball up in the zone of Tyler Greene, and a strikeout looking at a fastball of newly acquired Kyle Hoppy. Hoppy was recently released by the Orioles organization and signed by the Phillies. He was hitting leadoff for the Cutters last night because Roman Quinn was out with a sore right hand.
“You have to be halfway at second,” Tracy said. “He made a mistake. He just had a mind freeze. An answer is an answer. What do you say?”
Moore drove in his second run of the night with a single in the fourth inning to cut the Cutters’ deficit to 8-2, but after that, Morel combined with Josh Martin to retire the next 10 hitters and 15 of the next 17.
“We just couldn’t get anything,” Tracy said. “Playing from behind we have to go station to station and you can’t make things happen. Obviously our lineup is a little different without (Quinn) at the top of it.”
Steven Inch threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings to close out the game for the Cutters. Walding went 2 for 3 with a pair of hard-hit singles to the left side. It was the 19-year old third baseman’s first multi-hit game since July 13.
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