AUBURN | After a pair of teammates struck out with the bases loaded in the first inning, Carlos Lopez stepped up at Falcon Park Sunday.
Down 0-2 in the count, the Auburn Doubledays third baseman knew it was a big moment.
"You look for some contact and you don't get any for two hitters, and suddenly you're thinking 'Is this guy going to get out of a bases loaded, nobody out situation?'" Doubledays manager Gary Cathcart said.
Just when doubt crept in, Lopez sent the next pitch over the left field wall for a grand slam, as the Doubledays routed Mahoning Valley, 8-4.
"It feels great to finally be able to help the team," Lopez said. "You want to do your job and give the team a chance to win."
Wander Ramos worked a bases loaded walk before Lopez, as Auburn roughed up Mahoning Valley starting and losing pitcher Jake Sisco for five runs in the first.
"Any time you get off to a 5-0 lead, it's very important," Cathcart said. "It's a good thing we did, because we didn't do a whole lot until the seventh or eighth inning. We needed that."
The Doubledays added a run in the third, when Ramos grounded into a fielder's choice to plate Estarlin Martinez.
Chris Marrero hit a double off the right-centerfield wall to bring in Spencer Kieboom, and Shawn Pleffner followed with an RBI single in the seventh.
Doubledays starter David Fischer allowed five hits and two runs -- one earned -- over five innings for the win. He struck out five, and at one point retired 10 straight batters.
"I thought his stuff had a lot more life than it had his last time out in Brooklyn," Cathcart said.
Elliott Waterman allowed one run on three hits over two innings before being replaced by Travis Henke, who allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth. Derek Self finished giving up a pair of hits and a run.
"Henke's been solid for most of the year," Cathcart said. "You ask a closer to come in with an 8-3 lead, sometimes they need to put a few guys on before it starts to feel like a closer situation. But we needed to get (Self) some work with a couple days off coming up."
Auburn (31-22) heads into the the All Star break on a positive note, and leads the Pinckney Division, 3.5 games ahead of State College.
"It's been a grind," Cathcart said. "I've asked a lot of them -- I'm very demanding on how they do things -- but I think it's going to help them down the road. For me right on down, I think a couple days off is just what the doctor ordered for all of us."