Cutters swept by Tri-City in doubleheader

JUDI PINKERTON/For The Sun-Gazette Adam Haseley attempts a bunt in the first inning of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Bowman Field.

A heavy fog rolled in over Bowman Field on Saturday night making for an interesting doubleheader in which the Williamsport Crosscutters lost both games to Tri-City, 4-3 and 3-0.

Williamsport has lost six games in a row with the sweep and is 5-11 in its last 16 games as it continues its slide in the Pinckney Division and the Wild Card standings in the New York-Penn League.

The final game of the twinbill was a scoreless deadlock when fog began rolling in over the 90-plus year old ballpark. At first it was a nuisance, but by the time Williamsport took the field for the top of the sixth inning, it was becoming an issue. Tri-City’s Gabriel Bracamonte launched a fly ball to right-center field which the Cutters’ Malvin Matos never saw. By the time the umpires called the players off the field, Tri-City had a 1-0 lead.

The ValleyCats added two more runs after a 30-minute fog delay to finish the sweep of the doubleheader. The odd loss in the second game followed a loss in the opener when Tri-City scored a run the half inning after Williamsport had tied the game.

Zach Warren, on in relief of starter Will Stewart, started the top of the sixth inning in Game 1 with a three-pitch strikeout before he got into danger. Colton Shaver walked and was chased home on a ringing double to the right-center field gap by Tri-City’s Corey Julks. It was a touch of redemption for Julks because it was his glove in which the ball popped out of on Stephen’s game-tying double the previous half inning.

Tri-City’s Luis Ramirez recorded the final six outs without incident for his second save in as many chances. Stewart took a no-decision despite throwing a solid five innings, striking out seven. Of the three runs he allowed, only two were earned.

Williamsport’s loss in the first game of the doubleheader was just a microcosm of the plague which has haunted the Cutters through the last two-plus weeks. The Cutters were just 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position, and the only hit they recorded was the two-run double from Stephen in which the ball popped out of the glove of Julks on the warning track.

Other than that, the Cutters’ offense was relatively punchless. An offense which was hitting north of .260 as a team within the last two weeks to lead the New York-Penn League, entered Saturday’s twinbill hitting just .249 as a team, fourth-best in the league.

Four of Williamsport’s first five batters in the game reached base with singles from Nick Maton and Stephen, but the Cutters scored only a single run on a wild pitch. Williamsport put three more runners on base in the bottom of the fifth inning, two of which scored on Stephen’s double to left field. But outside of those two innings, the Cutters managed just one other baserunner, and that came on a two-out walk to Malvin Matos in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Williamsport’s struggle with runners in scoring position was a continuation of its previous 15 games. The Cutters are just 5-11 in their last 16 games having averaged just 2.31 runs per game during that stretch. Prior to this rough patch, Williamsport had averaged 4.9 runs per game as it offered up one of the most explosive offenses in the NYPL.

But over the last 16 games, Williamsport has hit just .148 (19 for 128) with runners in scoring position. And over its last eight games, the offense has hit just .071 (4 for 56) with runners in scoring position.

Those ugly numbers shined over both games for Williamsport last night. First it was the 1 for 6 performance with runners in scoring position in the first game, then it was an 0 for 5 performance in the nightcap.

The Cutters failed to score in the nightcap when it had runners on second and third with nobody out in the bottom of the third inning. After failing to score on a pair of wild pitches, Matos was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a ground ball to first base.

Then, after a Brian Mims leadoff double in the fifth inning, two routine ground balls and a strikeout stranded the first baseman on third. Tri-City took the lead in the top half of the sixth inning after that missed scoring opportunity.