AUBURN | After being one-hit in the first game, the Auburn Doubledays jumped out to a three-run lead and held on, as they split a doubleheader with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers Tuesday at Falcon Park.
Auburn dropped the first game 2-0, but won the second 3-1.
"The guys had a little better energy in the second game," said Doubledays manager Gary Cathcart.
In the first game, Cole Sulser tossed six spotless innings but fell short of a perfect game.
Sulser (3-2) struck out nine over the first six frames for the win, but was pulled after giving up a single to Wilman Rodriguez to lead off the bottom of the seventh and final inning. Kerry Doane came on in relief, and retired the next three batters for the save.
Mahoning Valley took a one-run lead in the fifth inning, when Claudio Bautista plated Josh McAdams with a bloop single into right field. McAdams drove in Nellie Rodriguez with a single one inning later. The Scrappers finished with six hits.
Former National League all-star Chris Young made a rehab start for the Doubledays. The 6-10 right-hander allowed one hit and one walk over three innings and struck out three.
"I'm just glad to see Chris get out there for three innings," Cathcart said. "He was pleased, healthy. He threw a few more in the bullpen to get to his pitch count. All positives for him."
Christian Garcia, also on a rehab assignment, struck out two in one hitless inning of relief.
"He's as good as I've seen him," Cathcart said. "That's what he does when he's healthy."
Cory Bafidis (2-1) gave up four hits and two runs over two innings in the loss, and Silvio Medina held Mahoning Valley to one hit in the seventh.
In the second game,the Doubledays jumped out to a three-run lead in the second inning. David Masters brought in one run with a single, and Rodriguez singled in two more.
"I was looking for a good pitch to hit," Rodriguez said through a translator. "I was looking for the fastball. The hitting coach has told us, every at-bat, look for the fastball. I got a fastball and I hit it to help the team win."
For Cathcart, it was important to get a couple runs early.
"If we go three, four, five more innings in the second game without any runs, our guys are going 'When are we going to score again?'" he said. "It's good to get a couple early."
The Scrappers' lone run came on a solo homer from Claudio Bautista in the fourth inning off of Doubledays starter Lucas Giolito.
Giolito gave up three hits and one run over four innings. He struck out five and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning.
"He wasn't completely on top of his game, but like I told him when he came out, it's going to be that way once in a while and you've got to work yourself out of some jams," Cathcart said.
Mike Mudron pitched one scoreless inning for the win, and LJ Hollins struck out three over two innings for his sixth save of the year.
"LJ's been good for us lately," Cathcart said. "Any kind of lineup that's running a lot of righties out there, he's going to be tough to handle."
Scrappers starter Kenny Mathews (0-3) allowed four hits and three unearned runs over four innings in the loss.
Auburn (26-48) hosts Mahoning Valley in the final game of the regular season Wednesday.
"It's always kind of bittersweet at the end of a season," Cathcart said. "People think because you didn't have a good year that you want to get it over with, but it's not that way for me. I love doing this too much to want a season to be over. I'd be home for a week and start wondering 'What do I do now?'"