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Mahoning Valley Scrappers walk-off in the weirdest possible home opener

Three walks, two wild pitches, and a hit batsman propelled the Scrappers to an unusual victory on opening day.

Columbus Clippers 5, Indianapolis Indians 4

Box Score · Clippers sail to 33-32

One word recap: BULLPEN

More: Five relief arms contributed to 4.1 innings of shutout baseball to maintain a 5-4 lead and a Clippers victory. Columbus never trailed after a four run first powered by a 3-run shot off the bat of cleanup hitter Brandon Barnes. Nellie Rodriguez scored the winning run in the bottom of the fourth by singling home Eric Haase. The Clippers nearly added an insurance run in the fifth, but Jordan Luplow threw Yandy Diaz out at home.

Akron RubberDucks 5, Reading Railroads Fightin’ Phils 0

Box Score · RubberDucks vulcanize to 37-29

One word recap: SEQUENCING

More: It was a bit of a weird game for the RubberDucks. I’m used to writing about them launching four dingers and winning by twelve, but last night they did it a bit differently. Things hinged on the third and and eighth innings in which sequencing assisted. Five of their eight total hits came in those innings, generating all five runs. In the third, Daniel Salters singled, Tyler Krieger walked, and Willi Castro singled to load the bases. Then, Joe Severs walked in Salters and Bobby Bradley earned an RBI ground out.

In the eighth, Columbus loaded the bases again courtesy of a single and a couple of walks. Conor Marabell singled, Sam Haggerty doubled, and all three ducks left the pond as runs. Actually that sounds kind of clunky. All three ducks flew home? If they’re on the pond, aren’t they already home? I’m not even sure I like using the word ‘vulcanize’ to describe their progress, so I’m just going to get on with it.

Jake Paulsen pitched nearly seven innings of shutout baseball, striking out six, walking three, and allowing two hits. David Speer and Kieran Lovegrove completely the shutout.

Lynchburg Hillcats 5, Salem Red Sox 4

Box Score · Hillcats claw to 28-37

One word recap: KAMINKSY

More: Rob Kaminsky returned to action last night in relief duty for the Lynchburg Hillcats. He recorded three outs and walked somebody, but it’s delightful to see the talented young pitcher back after missing essentially all of 2017 with [classified injury]. Seriously, I asked Brian; no one really knows what was wrong with Kaminsky because the organization kept it quiet.

Alexus Pantoja is the hero of the night, as he singled in a run in the second and doubled in two in the third. Things got dicey late when Jared Robinson coughed up three runs, but Kaminsky and Dalbert Siri shut down the Sox in the eighth and ninth to preserve the win. Freefall paused, for now.

Lake County Captains 2, Bowling Green Hot Rods 5

Box Score · Captains sink to 29-39

One word recap: DOUBLES

Juan Hillman might need a hug. The lefty from the former spring training home of the Indians, Winter Haven, earned another loss last night (even though the box score inexplicably lists him as the winning pitcher) to drop to 0-8. His ERA is now 6.18 as well. It feels like centuries ago that the 2nd round pick flashed promise in rookie ball and the New York-Penn league. He didn’t pitch particularly poorly (Yeah I typed those terrible adverbs and by god I’m going to own it), but he gave up three doubles in the top of the 7th that sealed the game for the Hot Rods. Earlier in the game he also threw a wild pitch that allowed one run to score and positioned a runner at third to score on the next base hit.

At the plate, Tyler Friis walked twice and Nolan Jones laced a double and a single. That was about it, other than another Ulysses Cantu jack in the third.

Mahoning Valley Scrappers 9, West Virginia Black Bears 8 (10 innings)

Box Score · Scrappers scrap to 1-0

One word recap: WTF

More: If the inaugural game of the Scrappers’ season is a sign of things to come, then it’s going to be a god damn roller coaster. Also, if anyone can get more reliable information on this game, dear god please tell me because the log just isn’t doing it for me. I HAVE QUESTIONS.

After cruising to a 3-2 lead the Scrappers tripped, shot themselves in the foot, and finally amputated the wrong leg in the top of the ninth. Dakody Clemmer earned a groundout to start the inning, then allowed a double and a single to blow the save and tie the game. He remained in and induced a double-play ball in the next at-bat, but Tyler Freeman booted it to extend the inning. The rest of the inning unfolded as follows:

  • RBI single
  • Pitching change - Erick Algarin for Clemmer
  • RBI Double
  • Walk
  • Sac fly
  • Michael De La Cruz steals his third base of the game
  • Ground out

One error can create a lot of pain.

Fortunately, the Scrappers immediately struck back. I don’t have video, but the inning started when Jhoan Herrera doubled on a pop-up to the second baseman. That’s what the game log says, people. Stop yelling. The Scrappers followed this up with a walk, a single, and an RBI groundout to pull within two. Freeman stepped up to the plate an earned instant redemption by doubling in two to tie the game.

That’s when things finally got weird. Remember, runners are starting on second base this season. The Black Bears promptly bunted the run over, singled him home, went first to third on another single, and then scored the runner on a groundout. After crawling all the way back from a three run deficit in the ninth, the Scrappers would need to do it again in the tenth to win.

So they did. I can’t write it any better than the game log, so here it is, emphasis mine:

Mahoning Valley Bottom of the 10th

  • Michael Tinsley starts inning at 2nd base.
  • Mitch Reeves walks.
  • With Hosea Nelson batting, wild pitch by Francis Del Orbe, Michael Tinsley to 3rd. Mitch Reeves to 2nd.
  • Hosea Nelson walks.
  • Henry Pujols hit by pitch. Michael Tinsley scores. Mitch Reeves to 3rd. Hosea Nelson to 2nd.
  • With Simeon Lucas batting, wild pitch by Francis Del Orbe, Mitch Reeves scores. Hosea Nelson to 3rd. Henry Pujols to 2nd.
  • Simeon Lucas called out on strikes.
  • Francis Del Orbe intentionally walks Jason Rodriguez.
  • Gabriel Mejia out on a sacrifice fly to center fielder Michael De La Cruz. Hosea Nelson scores.

That’s three walks, two wild pitches, a hit-by-pitch, and a strikeout for Francis Del Orbe of the Black Bears. I would feel bad for Simeon Lucas for striking out, but when you’ve seen two walks and a hit by pitch in consecutive succession when you step to the plate and then see a wild pitch to score the tying run, why take the bat off your damn shoulder? It then makes some sense to intentionally walk the bases loaded and hope for ground ball contact, but it didn’t quite work out for the Black Bears. Mejia capped off a fine night that included nailing a runner at second base by driving home the winning run.

I would give anything for video of these last two innings, man.

DSL Indians 4, DSL Dodgers Guerrero 7 (10)

Box Score · Indians fall to 5-7

One word recap: Shucks

More: Not every extra inning game can be an all-timer. The Indians blew a save in the bottom of the ninth, then gave away three more in the first half of the tenth courtesy of two doubles and an error. It’s a bit of a shame, as Diarlin Jimenez pitched a fine game: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 SO.

The last bit to note is a game-extending throw by Jean Montero. In the top of the ninth the Dodgers were poised to score one more, but Montero nailed him at home to end the inning and complete a slick double play. Thanks, Jean. Thean.