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NILES, OH- After digging an early 9-1 hole in the 5th the Mahoning Valley Scrappers made an epic comeback in the rubber match of their three-game series with the West Virginia Black Bears. They scratched and clawed their way back into the game and took the 9-9 tie into the bottom of the 9th. After three straight walks to load the bases the game would end when Jack Kelly launched a ball that was caught on the warning track by West Virginia’s center fielder. Since game three ended in a tie the series ends in a tie, with each team winning a game apiece.

The Scrappers didn’t wait long, they scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the 1st. Bobby Sparling singled into the right-center gap scoring Mathieu Vallee making the score 1-0.

West Virginia had a strong answer the next half-inning. In the top of the 2nd, the Black Bears plated three runs on four hits to take a 3-1 lead. The Scrappers had runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom part of the 2nd and West Virginia killed their momentum by turning a triple play. The turn came from a pop-up bunt hit by Jarrod Belbin and a diving catch by pitcher Zach Bravo that led to both runners being caught between bases.

Grant Hussey extended West Virginia’s lead to 4-1 with a solo shot in the top of the 4th. The ball traveled 416 feet and hit the right-center scoreboard (via Prep Baseball Report). West Virginia benefited after another solo homer was hit by Garrett Spain in the 5th. His homer also went to right-center and traveled 430 feet. That was just the beginning as they’d score four more in the 5th extending the Black Bears’ lead to 9-1.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Scrappers had a big inning. They scored five runs of their own to cut the Black Bears’ lead to three. The inning began with four straight walks issued by West Virginia pitcher J.P. Massey. Trent “Buck” Anderson followed with an RBI when he grounded into a fielder’s choice to second base. The big damage came when Bobby Sparling blasted a three-run homer 400 feet to left-center. When the Scrappers were finished the score was 9-6.

The Scrappers just kept coming, in the bottom of the 7th they scored another three runs to tie the game at 9-9. Branden Comia hit a two-run double, cutting the lead to one and Belbin singled scoring him in the next at-bat to tie the game.

As mentioned above the Scrappers loaded the bases in the 9th but fell short of capping off the comeback with a win.

The offense combined for eight hits and 11 walks. Sparling and Comia led the way with multi-hit games. Sparling went 2-5 with a homer and a single. He drove in four and scored one. Comia was 2-3 with a single, double, and two walks. He also scored two runs and drove in two.

Scrappers’ pitching struggled early. Starter Cole Ayers didn’t have his best stuff, giving up four runs and six hits in four innings while striking out five. Kerry Wright relieved Ayers of his duties in the 5th. In the one inning, he pitched he struggled giving up five runs on five hits. He worked his way into the 6th but didn’t record an out after the first runner reached on an error and he gave up a walk. Relievers Eric Sapp, Trevor Olsen, and Jacob DeLabio closed the game strong, not allowing West Virginia to score in the final four innings.

These teams are about as evenly matched as can be. Today’s tie keeps the season series between the two teams tied at (5-5-2). The Scrappers will take a .5 game lead over West Virginia in the MLB Draft League and a 17-10-2 record into their four-game road trip.

The Scrappers will leave The Valley to play two games at State College and another pair in Williamsport. The Scrappers will return next Sunday on the Fourth of July at 7:05 p.m. to face West Virginia for another two-game series at Eastwood Field. The night will feature Fourth of July Fireworks presented by April Cheney – Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway, 21 WFMJ & WBCB and Mix 98.9. It is also Every Sunday Matters; fans can bring canned goods for Second Harvest Food Bank or new children’s books for a free general admission ticket to the game.

To purchase tickets to the Fourth of July and the remainder of the upcoming homestand you can visit the Chevy Allstars Box Office, call 330-505-0000.


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