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Scrappers spiked at home by State College

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Nathan Lavender of the Scrappers delivers a pitch Tuesday during the team’s 14-8 loss to State College at Eastwood Field.

NILES — The Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Tuesday opened their third homestand of the season just as they did their first two — with a series against State College.

The Scrappers began the previous two series with wins, but the third time proved to be the charm for the Spikes.

After trailing 3-0 early, State College scored nine unanswered runs en route to a 14-8 win over the Scrappers at Eastwood Field.

The Scrappers (7-11) sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring three runs. A double by Jarrod Belbin plated the game’s first run. Belbin scored on a Branden Comia base hit, then the Scrappers scored their third run on a Sam Crail bases-loaded walk.

However, Scrappers starter Nathan Lavender couldn’t hold the lead.

State College (8-10) immediately responded with a two-run second on a Mark Vierling home run.

State College then took the lead for good with a four-run second that chased Lavender from the game.

Lavender worked just 2 2/3 innings, giving up six runs. He surrendered just four hits but issued three costly walks.

“These players, all of these players in this league, they continue to learn every day,” Spikes manager Delwyn Young said. “We’ve seen a lot of progress just over the first few weeks, but there’s still a long way to go. A lot of these guys are playing every day for the first time in their lives, and that alone is a learning experience.”

“A lot of these players are learning to lose for the first time in their lives. They are used to winning at every level, and here you just don’t win every time you take the field.”

Spikes catcher Keith Piper belted a three-run home run in the sixth. Piper finished the night with a single, two doubles a home run and six RBIs.

“This league is a lot like spring training in that pitchers were pretty far ahead of hitters early on,” Young said. “I think we’re seeing that the hitters are starting to catch up. A lot of them are starting to hit their stride.”

Tuesday’s game featured the Scrappers debut of Darren Baker, the son of Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker. Darren Baker pinch hit in the sixth inning and walked.

Darren Baker, an infielder, recently completed his senior season at the University of California, where he batted .327 with 17 RBI in 55 games.

The Scrappers and Spikes continue their three-game series tonight at 7:05.

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