July 9, 2009

On this Thursday evening in Niles, the first nine innings in the Back Corner of the Eastwood Mall Parking Lot had been quick and uneventful. The Scrappers and the Auburn Doubledays (then Toronto Blue Jays, now Washington Nationals) were tied a two runs apiece.

It seemed that the Scrappers had blown the game in top of the tenth as the Doubledays scored to take the lead. Chances of a comeback seemed remote as the Mahoning Valley nine had been held scoreless in eight of the nine previous frames, with both runs coming in a sixth inning aided by the wildness of Auburn reliever Austin Armstrong (two walks and a a run-scoring hit batter).

They would come back to tie the game, however, as C Chun Chen drove in pinch runner Kyle Bellows on a no-out double to right for his second RBI of the game (He was the man plunked by the aforementioned bases-loaded pitch.). What started a a promising comeback for a ten-inning victory fizzled out as the next three Scrapper hitters went down in order, the first albeit on a sac bunt that sent Cen to third as the potential winning run. They had, however, secured the continuation of the contest into the eleventh.

Following another seven scoreless half-innings, the Scrappers found themselves up in the bottom of the 14th with a chance, yet again, to win the game. After RF Jason Smit (who started the game at 1B) grounded out to short, Bellows, now the DH, got on base with a pop-up single in the same direction. Chen followed with another pop fly to the middle infield, but this one resulted in a 4-6 force of Bellows, putting the Scrappers one out from having ti play a 15th frame. Doubledays hurler Josh wells intentionally walked LF Greg Folgia (kids, this was back in the day when such a tactic required four pitches) in order to face the Scrappers starting first baseman, now at 3B, Rafael Vera. this proved to be a mistake, as Vera singled to right to score Chen, who had stlen third base earlier in the plate appearance, and give the Scrappers a hard-fought 4-3 victory.


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