Scrappers come-from-way-behind for 15th victory

By Steve ruman


In the months-long world of professional baseball, losing is as much a part of the game as balls and strikes.

Last year’s World Series champion Houston Astros endured seven losing streaks of three games or longer. The Cincinnati Big Red Machine of 1975 and 1976? Those two teams lost a combined 104 games.

Even the ’27 Yankees managed to lose 29 percent of its games.

The way Mahoning Valley Scrappers manager Jim Pankovits sees it, losing is inevitable. It’s how a team responds to its setbacks which will ultimately decide its fate.

“You’re going to lose games, you’re going to lose series, it’s part of baseball,” Pankovits said. “The true character of a team is how they respond.”

To this point, the Scrappers have mastered the art of rebounding from losses. The Scrappers (15-6) have been defeated six times this season, and each loss was followed up with a victory.

The latest bounce-back win came Saturday in the most dramatic fashion yet this season. This time it was a Scrappers’ 6-5 win over Williamsport in front of 3,863 fans at Eastwood Field.

Trailing 5-2 and with two outs and no baserunners in the bottom of the ninth, the Scrappers rallied for four runs, capped by a Hosea Nelson two-RBI base hit.

“That was my first walk-off ever,” said a smiling Nelson afterward.

After being held to four hits on Friday, the Scrappers wasted no time flexing their offensive muscles against the Crosscutters.

The Scrappers scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-0 lead. Jose Fermin walked to open up the inning, stole second and scored on a Richie Palacios RBI single. Palacios scored on a double off the bat of Nelson.

Williamsport scored single runs in the third and fourth innings to tie the game at 2-2. The third inning run was aided by an error by Scrappers third baseman Henry Pujols. The second run came courtesy of a pair of wild pitches by Scrappers starter Juan Mota.

Williamsport scored three runs in the sixth to take a 5-2 lead. The three-run cushion appeared to be more than enough, especially when the first two Scrappers grounded out to start the bottom of the ninth.

However, a Tre Gantt bloop single started the wild finish. An error, a walk and a pair of hit batters cut the Scrappers’ deficit to 5-4, loaded the bases and set up Nelson’s heroics.

“I was sitting on something off-speed early, I didn’t expect anything fast and over the plate,” Nelson said. “With a 1-0 count, I almost got nicked on the jersey. I’m glad it just missed.”

With the count at 2-0 and in his favor, Nelson laced a rocket to center field, scoring the game-tying and game-winning runs.

“You know, I think this never-say-die attitude starts with the Big League team,” Nelson said. “We watch the Indians and see how they just never quit right down to the last out, and it rubs off. We do the same.”

“This was a fun night.”