Mahoning Valley beats Spikes 3-1 to avoid dropping to last place in league standings | News, Sports, Jobs
NILES — After spending the first 18 days of the season atop the MLB Draft League standings, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Wednesday were poised to go from first to worst in just 17 days.
Instead, the Scrappers rallied to defeat State College 3-1 and in doing so avoided slipping to last place in the MLB Draft League standings.
A night after the Scrappers and Spikes combined to score 25 points, the offense was at a fever pitch Wednesday at Eastwood Field. Both teams had just three hits each. There were 28 strikeouts in the contest – 15 recorded by Scrappers pitchers.
State College scored its only run in the top of the first inning when Lyndon Weaver tripled and then scored on a double steal.
From then on, the Scrappers (14-16) slammed the door. Starter Frank Elissalt worked five innings, allowing just two hits while recording seven strikeouts. Four Scrappers relievers each worked an inning, allowing only one hit. Each of the four relievers recorded a pair of strikeouts.
For a second straight night, the Scrappers went no hits until the fifth inning. In the sixth, the Scrappers finally broke through with three runs. Zach Dezenzo, an Alliance native and Ohio State product, hit a pair of runs with a triple. Dezenzo then scored on a wild pitch.
State College (12-17) charged in the ninth on three walks, but Ben Thompson made his first save of the season with a game-ending strikeout.
The Scrappers begin a three-game home series on Friday against West Virginia.
The rigors of travel and everyday baseball — and the level of competition — can start to take their toll on a vast majority of first-year MLB Draft League players.
The Draft League season started on June 2. Since then, most teams in the league have played 31 games in 35 days. On one of the rest days, the players competed in a one-day draft held at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The next day, the Scrappers were on their way to Trenton, their longest road trip of the season.
Most players had little to no time off between the end of their college season and the start of the Draft League campaign.
“I think more than the games themselves, the whole process was a major adjustment for these players,” Scrappers manager Homer Bush said. “They get to the ballpark around 1:30 in the afternoon and most nights they’re here until almost midnight.”
“I love this part of the game, it gives you structure and that’s what I like about the daily routine, but it can definitely be a challenge.”
Bush believes the biggest hurdle players face is the level of league-wide competition.
“In most cases, these pitchers, in their respective schools and in their conferences, if they pass the fifth guy in order, they might get a break or two,” Bush said. “In this league, you have dangerous hitters up and down the lineup. Some nights you face a lineup of six to eight draftable players.
“Same thing on the other side of the ball. The speed, the breaking pitches, the spin rate that we see from some of these pitchers is out of this world. The competition every inning and every time at bat is strong. It’s not just a few strong players in the lineup or in the rotation.
The Scrappers will enjoy a day off today before starting a nine-game, nine-day series, including six on the road. The nine-day stretch will conclude the end of the first half of the season, marking the end of the season for the vast majority of the roster.
“One day off, and hopefully these players come back from Friday and finish strong,” Bush said.