Scrappers capture division

GRANVILLE, W.Va. — The Mahoning Valley Scrappers made the 20th season of the franchise a special one, clinching a second straight Pinckney Division championship in the New York-Penn League.

The Scrappers’ 7-1 win over the West Virginia Black Bears on Sunday, coupled with Auburn’s 5-4 loss to Batavia, clinched the title for Mahoning Valley (41-33) with one game left to play.

The only time the Scrappers earned back-to-back division titles previously was in the franchise’s first two seasons, 1999 and 2000.

Mahoning Valley will face Stedler Division champ Tri-City (42-32) in the first round of the playoffs which are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Hudson Valley (45-29) has clinched the McNamara Division and, with the best record of division winners, will face the wild-card team in the playoffs. That berth has not yet been decided with Auburn (40-35) and Brooklyn (39-35) still in contention.

On Sunday, the Scrappers gradually built a 7-0 lead through six innings. Jose Fermin led the offense with three hits, and Tyler Freeman and Connor Smith had two apiece. Ruben Cardenas drove in two runs and Freeman scored a pair.

Yefferson Yannuzzi threw four scoreless innings for MV, followed by Eli Lingos who allowed the Black Bears’ only run in three innings of work. Luis Santos and Manuel Alvarez each threw a shutout relief inning.

This playoff appearance will be the sixth for the Scrappers in their team history and the division title is their fifth. The one time Mahoning Valley qualified as the wild-card team (2004), it took home the league championship.

The Scrappers were beaten in the league’s championship finals in 1999, 2000 and 2009, and lost in the first round a year ago.