AUBURN, NY - Monday night's matchup at Falcon Park appeared to be the perfect opportunity for the first place Doubledays to put some distance between themselves and the second place Mahoning Scrappers. Back two-and-a-half games in the Pinckney Division and on the heels of their eighth straight loss against the night before, the Doubledays threw Ryan Tapani on the mound for his first non-doubleheader start of the season in an attempt to add onto their cushion.
The Scrappers, however, had other plans. Mahoning Valley dominated on both sides of the plate to regain a game in the standings with an 8-2 win.
Tapani was hit right away as Scrappers second baseman Jose Fermin led off the first inning action with a single up the middle. A groundout with runners at second and third drove in the first run of the game, and a big fly ball to right field made it over the fence for a two-run home run by Hosea Nelson. The three-run inning was the first time that Tapani had allowed more than two runs all season.
Ryan settled down during his second and last inning of work and handed off the baton to Alfonso Hernandez. Fresh from the airport after getting called up from the Gulf Coast Nationals, Hernandez held the Scrappers over the next four innings to keep the deficit within comeback distance for the Doubledays.
In the meantime, however, Mahoning Valley starter Zack Draper was putting on a clinic on the mound against Auburn's offense. Draper held the Doubledays to just one hit over the contest's first seven innings while tying a season high in strikeouts with eight Ks.
While putting up zeroes on the scoreboard, the Scrappers were getting ready for a huge seventh inning. Mahoning Valley was able to figure out Hernandez and knocked him out of the game after recording only the first out of the inning. Though the three runners he left on base inevitably scored, his eight strikeouts over 4.1 innings was definitely a high point of the game.
Down 7-0, the Doubledays did manage to avoid the shutout in the home half with an RBI double by Carson Shaddy and an RBI single by Jamori Blash. After a freezing cold July where he batted well below the Mendoza line, Blash has warmed up to hit .316 in August.
The Scrappers tacked on an insurance run in the ninth to seal the win and come within a game and a half of Auburn in the standings.
The Doubledays will be back in action Tuesday at 6:30 for Game 2 against the Scrappers.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.