AUBURN | As Auburn Doubledays starter Brett Mooneyham described his outing against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Falcon Park on Sunday, it seemed as if he struggled through six innings.
The 6-5 left-hander didn’t get off on the right foot, going deep into counts in the first inning and give up a two-out single to the Dorssys Paulino.
But in the five innings to follow, Mooneyham didn’t allow another hit for the win as the Doubledays blanked the Scrappers 4-0 in Auburn's regular season home finale.
“I was just fortunate enough to keep my fastball away from the middle, which is what I always try to do,” Mooneyham said. “I usually have pretty good movement, and whenever I can make it work and I keep the ball on the inside or outside corner, I have success.”
Mooneyham, as well as relievers Michael Boyden and Travis Henke, allowed one hit apiece.
Mooneyham worked efficiently, needing five pitches to retire the side in both the third and fifth innings, and nine pitches in the fourth. Although he struggled out of the stretch, the Stanford University product only allowed four baserunners, including two in the sixth, when he gave up a walk and bobbled a bunt.
“That was just getting out of sync,” Mooneyham said. “I was just rushing on the bunt, but I was able to use the fastball down on the inside and outside to get ground balls.”
Mooneyham finished with a pair of walks and three strikeouts. The defense behind him swiftly took care of the rest.
“I don’t think we made any great plays, but I think we made all the plays,” Doubledays manager Gary Cathcart said. “He’s the one who’s pounding the strike zone, forcing contact.”
Boyden tossed two innings in relief, walking one and striking out two. Henke then closed out the game and struck out two in the final frame.
“(Boyden) made some nice adjustments,” Cathcart said. “(Henke) has just been tremendous the whole year.”
The Doubledays’ spread out offense allowed a comfortable cushion for its pitching staff. Eight of the nine Auburn batters registered a hit, with Craig Manuel and Mike McQuillan each collecting a pair of singles.
Manuel drove in Brandon Miller, who doubled off the centerfield wall, in the second.
Two innings later, Martinez followed with a two-out solo home run over the left field wall.
The Doubledays tacked on two more in the fifth with four straight singles for a pair of runs. Tony Renda knocked in Narciso Mesa, and Shawn Pleffner drove in McQuillan.
Scrappers starter Luis Morel took the loss. He allowed nine hits and four runs over 4 2-3 innings before James Stokes and Harold Guerrero finished the game. The duo combined to allow one hit.
Auburn (39-27), two games ahead of second place Batavia, embarks on a 10-game road trip to end the regular season. The two teams will meet in a pair of games next Sunday and Monday.
“The road trip will be a challenge,” Cathcart said. “You don’t see too many 10-game road trips in the minor leagues, nevermind going to four different cities. It will be a challenge, but nothing you want that’s worth anything ever comes easy.”