WILLIAMSPORT - Can you say no-no?
Yacksel Rios, Mark Meadors and Manny Martinez can as the trio combined to toss a no-hit, no-run game at Mahoning Valley in an 8-0 whitewashing of the Scrappers before 1,835 fans Sunday night at Bowman Field.
Rios got the start and worked five innings to pick up the win. Meadors piggy-backed Rios for the next three innings before Martinez came on in the ninth to slam the door shut on the Scrappers.
The trio combined for 10 strikeouts as Rios had six in his five innings, Meadors had three and Martinez struck out the final batter of the game to put the lid on the no-hitter. The no-hitter was the first for the Cutters since Henry Cabrera and Olivo Astascio combined to no-hit Batavia on Sept. 6, 2006.
"They just did a great job and there is no other way to say it," said Cutters pitching coach Les Lancaster. "Rios didn't have his best stuff, but he kept the ball down and made pitches when he had to. When he walked someone he was able to work his way out of it. If it wouldn't have been for an error, Meadors would have had a clean three innings and Martinez did a great job with his fastball and the breaking ball to end the game after changing his arm slot just two days ago."
Lancaster was quick to point out that some of the credit has to go to the catcher.
"A lot goes with the catcher as well as the pitchers," he said. "If they are calling a good game and the pitchers are making the pitches it goes hand-in-hand and we can't do it without them (the catchers)."
After watching his troops blank Batavia 11-0 just 24 hours earlier, Cutters manager Nelson Prada likes what he has seen from his players in recent games.
"The guys did a very good job the past two games," said Prada. "Actually we have been doing a lot better the past seven or eight games. We have been hanging in there even in some of our losses, so the back-to-back wins were nice. We had a five-game losing streak and that hurt us, but we still have a chance to get in there and battle for a championship. They have been playing a lot better the last six or seven games."
After hammering Batavia pitching for 13 hits and 11 runs, the dozen hits and eight runs gives the Cutters a two-game total of 19 runs on 25 hits.
"I think the difference in the past two days is that we have been a lot more patient at the plate by swinging at more strikes," said Prada. "Prior to the last seven or eight games, we were in a funk where we were swinging at a lot of balls and we were striking out a lot. Now we are starting to see better pitches by giving ourselves better counts to swing and that is what happens when you are patient at the plate. Today we were facing a really good pitcher (Cole Sulser) with a 1.99 ERA and a lot of strikeouts. We were able to score three runs and get seven or eight hits off him and only struck out four times in five innings. After that, we didn't strikeout again for the rest of the game."
After scoring single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, the Cutters put the game on ice with a five-spot in the bottom of the eighth.
In the third, Gustavo Martinez singled to center, stole second, went to third on a single by Sam Dove and scored when Malquin Canelo bounced into a 6-3 double play.
Adding on in the fourth, the Cutters got their bats in gear as they plated another run and they did it with two outs. Dylan Cozens tripled to deep center and scored on an RBI single to left by Samuel Hiciano.
Completing the trifecta of single runs, Canelo singled to right, moved to third on a single by Justin Parr and scored on Andrew Pullin's RBI groundout.
"That (adding on) is something we talk to the guys about all the time," said Prada. "We play nine innings, and when you have a chance to add on, you had better take advantage of it. Putting the ball in play is important even if you don't always get a hit. If you have guys on first and third or second and third four times with less than two outs and you get a ground ball, you are going to score four runs maybe without getting a hit. That is why it is so important to put the ball in play and put pressure on the other team."
Already up 3-0, the Cutters put the game away in the eighth when they scored the five runs for an 8-0 lead in what would be the final score.
Picking up the big hits in the eighth for the Cutters were Zach Green with an RBI single and Martinez with a two-run single. Canelo completed the offensive assault when he plated Martinez with a sacrifice fly to center.
Martinez carried the biggest lumber for the Cutters as he finished with a 3 for 4 night with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs.
The same two teams will be right back at it tonight with a single game set for a 7:05 first pitch. Julio Reyes will toe the slab for the Cutters, while the Scrappers will counter with Kenny Matthews.