By Ty Bartell
Following a series opening victory on Friday night, The Mahoning Valley Scrappers were set to try for their first series win at home this season. On the other hand, the struggling Williamsport Crosscutters were desperately looking for a win to avoid falling too far behind in the standings. With a great crowd on hand and warm weather filling the air, the two teams were ready to once again do battle on Eastwood Field.
Getting the start on the mound for The Crosscutters was Trenton Shaw, while The Scrappers gave the rock to Connor Markl for his first start in The MLB Draft League this year. Getting his feet wet in the top of the first Markl gave up a pair of singles in the inning that set up first and third with only one out in the frame. Markl would record a big strikeout of a big bat in Colson Lawrence before picking off Ryan Ignaffo who was ranging too far from the first base bag, effectively getting Markl out of the first with no runs scored. In the bottom of the first, The Mahoning Valley order stayed patient at the plate against Trenton Shaw, who allowed three walks in the first inning alone. However, Shaw got creative and used his defense to help him get out of some early jams. One instance of this happened in the first when Shaw picked off the leadoff hitter Ny’Zaiah Thompson at first to get the first out of the inning. With a runner on second and less than two out, Shaw would strikeout both Mason Sykes and Connor Capece to strand a pair of Scrappers in the first.
Markl went back out in the top of the second and locked things down, sending The Crosscutter bats down in order 1-2-3 while striking out two in the inning. The bottom half of the second saw the first score in the ballgame. Scrapper newbies Jerrod Belbin and Trenton Harris each got their first hit back-to-back in their first games as members of The Draft League to start the inning, but on the Harris single, Belbin was thrown out a third trying to take an extra bag on the hit. Mahoning Valley would not let the first out derail them though, as Andreaus Lewis II would draw the walk before getting the first run of the game when JR Bedford hit a liner to second that was mishandled by Duante Stuart to plate Harris who was at third. Not done there, Ny’Zaiah Thompson would work his second walk of the game before Brandon Hylton came up with an RBI-single to double The Scrapper lead! Capping off the inning with a big hit in back-to-back games was none other than Mason Sykes who lined a two RBI-single to left to, once again, double The Mahoning Valley lead now 4-0 over Williamsport.
Connor Markl would battle his command a bit in the top of the third inning, walking two in the inning before eventually getting out of it with a grounder by Duante Stuart and a line-out by Ryan Ignaffo. Jatnk Diaz replaced Trenton Harris in the bottom of the third for The Crosscutters as Trenton Harris would continue his list of firsts for The Scrappers, getting his first double of the season with one down in the inning. Harris would get to third on a wild pitch before Diaz struck out both Andreaus Lewis II and JR Bedford in back-to-back at-bats to post a zero on the scoreboard.
Following a quiet fourth inning offensively by both teams, Connor Markl ended his day going four innings, allowing no runs, walking two and striking out six in a great performance! However, it was the top of the fifth inning that saw Williamsport get on the board. Zane Barnhart came on to replace Markl and Jacob Harper welcomed him to the game rather unkindly by smoking a single to right field to lead off the inning. Barnhart would strikeout the next two batters in Gage Gundy and Edwin Toribio before walking Joe Sullivan to set up first and second with two outs. Duante Stuart was the batter when he lifted one to right field that saw Scrappers right fielder Jerrod Belbin collide with second basemen JR Bedford and the ball pop loose and go all the way down the right field line. Two runs came home to score for Williamsport as Stuart ended up all the way at third with two down in the frame. With the lead cut in half for The Scrappers 4-2 and the tying run at the dish, Barnhart forced a flyout of Ignaffo to get Mahoning Valley out of the inning with the lead.
Titan Heyes was the next pitcher to emerge from the bullpen for Williamsport and he did exactly what was asked of him, sending The Scrappers down in order utilizing all fly outs in the bottom of the fifth. Barnhart would respond in the top of the sixth inning sending The Crosscutters down in order while striking out two more for The Scrappers staff. Jacob Peaden then came on in the sixth for Titan Hayes and he then pitched a 1-2-3 inning while striking the first two out looking. Zane Barnhart was back out for the seventh inning where he once again displayed dominance by sending Williamsport down in order, striking out two more and giving himself six on the day with three innings of work under his belt.
The next score came in the bottom of the seventh when Mahoning Valley hit three consecutive one out singles by Mason Sykes, Jack Moss (1st of the season) and highlighted with an RBI-single by Connor Capece to give The Scrappers a 5-2 lead. Alex Shea replaced Barnhart on the mound for Mahoning Valley and Williamsport would not wait too long to get that run back as in the top of the eighth. After Shea struckout Joe Sullivan following a lengthy at bat with nine pitches thrown, Duante Stuart would hit a one out double and get to third off a throwing error by JR Bedford. Ryan Ignaffo would bring Stuart home on a ground out fielder’s choice to cut the deficit back down to two for The Crosscutters at 5-3. Shea would force a ground out to the next batter up in Colson Lawrence to end the inning.
Scrappers failed to add anything in the bottom of the eighth, bringing up the ninth and the final chance for Williamsport. Nick Consentino came on to pitch for The Scrappers and got the first two out in the inning before allowing a two out walk to Jacob Harper, then next batter up Gage Gundy would line a single to center to put the tying run on base with two down. Taking no chances, Manager Dmitri Young called for Derek Bolander to get the final out and strand the tying run on. Bolander did just that, forcing a fly out to left by Edwin Toribio to end this one a Mahoning Valley victory 5-3!
The Scrappers pitching staff was excellent in the ballgame, striking out