Nine no-hit innings not enough

Holding the thumb of his glove in his right hand, Drew Stankiewicz bent over, lifted the glove above his head and slammed it into the shallow right field grass of Bowman Field.

A third rolling baseball testing his range to the extreme at second base eluded the sure-handed Williamsport infielder. His frustration was evident after all three plays, as a run scored at the conclusion of each play.

All of a sudden, a Crosscutters team which had held Mahoning Valley hitless for nine innings Saturday night was getting bled to death by seeing-eye singles and slow rollers. That’s right, Williamsport’s pitching staff threw a nine-inning no-hitter last night, but couldn’t score the extra run it needed to win in regulation.

And given extra life, the Scrappers made it count, recording five hits and four runs in the 10th inning to beat Williamsport, 5-1. The Cutters finished their five-game homestand with two consecutive losses after winning the first three games.

Williamsport pitchers Ricardo Pinto, Edubray Ramos and Calvin Rayburn combined for nine no-hit innings, the first time Williamsport hadn’t allowed a hit through nine innings since last August 18 when Yacksel Rios, Mark Meadors and Manny Martinez threw a no-hitter against this same Mahoning Valley team.

The Scrappers scored a run in the top of the fourth inning without a hit, which Williamsport matched in the bottom of the inning. But the Crosscutters, a team averaging better than four runs per game, couldn’t score more than that one run, despite eight hits through the first nine innings.

“You have to give credit where credit’s due. (Mahoning Valley) pitch a hell of a game, too,” said Rayburn, who threw a perfect eighth and ninth inning. “They gave up more hits, but they limited and that’s what we need to do. Most of the time you’d like to win a no-hitter, but there’s nothing you can do now.”

“The pitching has been what’s made us go this homestand,” said Cutters manager Shawn Williams, who was ejected after the top of the fourth inning for arguing a checked swing call which helped Mahoning Valley score its first run. “We had a no-hitter going through nine. That’s pretty neat. But it didn’t turn our way.”

Six of the first eight batters of the top of the 10th inning reached base for Mahoning Valley, and one that didn’t was out on a sacrifice bunt. Taylor Murphy then singled to score a run. Three batters later, with runners on first and second with two outs, Yonathan Mendoza hit a slow roller between first and second. Stankiewicz, who made a brilliant play to keep the no-hitter intact in the eighth inning, ranged to his left and made a sliding grab, but couldn’t get the ball out of his glove cleanly, loading the bases.

Austin Fisher then hit a slow roller to Stankiewicz’s right which he had to range halfway across Lycoming County to try and grab. And when he didn’t field it cleanly, he was charged with a tough error which allowed two runs to score. Steven Patterson then dribbled another one to Stankiewicz’s left which got just under his glove.

The four runs left a mountain of a deficit for a Williamsport team which was just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position to climb.

“I take our offense for granted sometimes because they’ve been so good,” Rayburn said. “You’re always thinking we’re going to put up six or seven runs, so we’ll be good. When it doesn’t happen, you start to think about where you could be better as a pitcher to help them.”

The only hiccup through the first nine innings came in the fourth after Pinto hit Patterson with a pitch with one out. Pinto then appeared to strike out Bradley Zimmer, and Grullon through out Patterson trying to steal second on the same play for a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play to end the inning. But home plate umpire Chris Scott ruled the pitch a ball, and base umpire Justin Houser ruled there was no swing on the appeal, meaning Zimmer walked, and in turn, Patterson was safe at second.

One wild pitch later, and Mejia hit a sacrifice fly to score Patterson with the game’s first run. Between innings Williams argued the call with Scott, and during the argument was ejected.

“I wouldn’t say it changed the game. Things happen,” Williams said. “Pinto made good pitches after that, which is good. He didn’t let it affect him. But I always have to be there for my guys. Whether you think it’s the right call or not, you have to be there for your players.”

Outside of that run, Pinto was brilliant in just his second game back from an elbow injury which cost him a month of the season. He didn’t allow a hit through 5 1/3 innings, and he struck out five.

He showcased a very good change-up early before beating the Scrappers with a live fastball the second time through the order. It continued a trend on the homestand of great starting pitching by the Cutters. In five games on the homestand, Cutters starters allowed just four runs and 19 hits in 28 1/3 innings pitched.

“He came out using everything,” Williams said. “I told (Aaron Fultz) in the first inning that he’s back. His fastball was there. He’s an extreme competitor and fun to watch.”