NILES - Stepping to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, Tyler Naquin had a game to forget at the plate.
The center fielder went 0-for-3 through the first nine innings and 0-for-7 in the series so far. With a runner in scoring position, the Connecticut Tigers opted to intentionally walk Aaron Siliga to get to him.
"They want to intentionally walk the guy who's got three hits and then come down to me?" Naquin said. "Anybody would. The guy who's 0-for-3, you kind of take that personal sometimes."
Naquin made the Tigers pay.
His blooper into the outfield scored Erik Gonzalez to gave the Mahoning Valley Scrappers the 5-4 win.
"I'm glad for Tyler (Naquin)," manager Ted Kubiak said. "That was a good (at-bat)."
Granted, the Scrappers (12-9) should not have needed Naquin's heroics.
The bullpen squandered a solid pitching performance from Geoff Davenport. The starter went six innings, allowing only one run on three hits. He added three strikeouts.
The key to Davenport's success came in the form of his efficiency. He kept his half of the inning short, facing only three batters in four of his innings pitched. This allowed him to go deeper into the game.
He left the game with the Scrappers having a comfortable three-run lead.
"(Davenport) is a good little pitcher," Kubiak said. "He's got good stuff- moves the ball around a little bit. He pitched great and did a good job."
Kubiak said that the bullpen issues came from the pitchers over-thinking the situation instead of throwing the heat.
"We need to teach these pitchers to stop trying to trick guys," Kubiak said. "With two strikes, keep the fastball working. They keep thinking they got to throw breaking ball or some change up when guys are fouling the ball off the other way.
"It's driving me nuts."
Despite the bullpen issues, the defense bailed them out on a number of occasions. Mahoning Valley pulled six double plays during the game, including four for the relievers.
Although his team committed two errors, Kubiak said he was pleased with the defensive effort.
"Good defense: That's what we're working on," Kubiak said. "Great plays by (Charlie) Valerio at first, acrobatic catch by (Joseph) Wendel.. (Robel) Garcia was good at short. He was aggressive- trying to teach him to do that."
The Scrappers had opportunities to put the Tigers (5-16) away early.
The team chased Connecticut starter Endrys Brinceno out after three and two-thirds innings. Mahoning Valley scored two runs on him in consecutive innings before Brinceno was pulled.
Brinceno left with a bases loaded situation, but the Scrappers couldn't capitalize. After relief pitcher Angel Nesbitt walked in a run, he got Joe Wendle to ground out to first.
The Scrappers finish their six-game home stand Monday against Connecticut at 7:05 p.m.