Williamsport , PA - The Williamsport Crosscutters worked out of a ninth-inning bases-loaded jam to hang on for an exciting 3-1 victory over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Saturday night at BB&T Ballpark. Mahoning Valley (34-34) had the bases loaded with no outs and already had pushed across its first run of the game but Brian Marconi (S, 1) battle back with a pair of strikeouts and then second baseman Nate Fassnacht made a nifty bare-hand play on a slow tapper to end the game.
Tyler Burch (W, 4-1) lasted five innings of stellar two-hit shutout ball and became the first starter for Williamsport (27-39) to record a win this year by becoming the first to last the required five frames. Burch kept his pitch-count low allowing the righty to remain in the game. He had zero walks and four strikeouts.
The Cutters broke through in the third with Nate Fassnacht drawing a walk and advancing on a passed ball before Nicolas Torres knocked a grounder between the legs of third baseman Henry Pujols for an error that brought home the game's opening run.
Rudy Rott lifted a two-run single to left-center off Cleveland first-rounder Daniel Espino (L, 0-1) for a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. The talented Espino racked up nine strikeouts in his stint but the Cutters pushed their way through for the early lead. Johan Rojas had two of his team's four hits in the game. Jake Holmes had singled and stolen second and Kendall Simmons had reached on a dropped third strike to provide the base-runners to be knocked in by Rott.
After Burch exited following his five strong innings, it was 18-year-old Victor Vargas to try to take in the rest of the way. Vargas allowed just a couple hits from the sixth through eighth and struck. With a runner at third threatening to break the shutout in the eighth, Vargas recorded back-to-back strikeouts to preserve the 3-0 advantage.
But Vargas ran into trouble in the ninth on a single by Korey Holland, a double smashed to the corner in right by Brayan Rocchio and a walk of Will Brennan that loaded the bases.
Marconi then walked Bryan Lavastida on five pitches costing the Cutters their chance for a fifth nine-inning shutout this season which would have been the second in a row involving Burch. The Scrappers were suddenly back in the game with three runners on and trailing only 3-1 with nobody out.
But Marconi persevered with consecutive swinging strikeouts of Yainer Diaz and Johnathan Rodriguez which was followed by Fassnacht's terrific pick on Jonathan Lopez to deny the Scrappers of what looked like a certain infield-single.
Williamsport travels to first-place Batavia looking to play spoiler in a three-game series beginning Sunday at 5:05 p.m. The series continues Monday at 7:05 p.m. and Tuesday at 11:05 a.m. RHP Brett Schulze is the scheduled starter for the Crosscutters in the series opener.
- Williamsport is 17-12 in the second half after going 10-27 in the first half.
- Williamsport finished the season series against Mahoning Valley at 5-7. Six of the twelve games ended in shutouts.
- Just nine scheduled games remain in the regular season including five at home.
- The Cutters lowered their team ERA to 3.03 which puts them back into second-best in the NYPL following a brief stay at third.
- The Cutters committed no errors and have won 14 of their last 20 games playing mistake-free defense.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.