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Scrappers complete sweep of West Virginia

Mahoning Valley off to a franchise-record 9-1 start through its first 10 games of the season

NILES — Not even Mother Nature can slow down the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Strong storms which were expected to move through the area Sunday afternoon never materialized. Instead, sunny skies and warm temperatures at Eastwood Field provided ideal conditions for an afternoon game between the Scrappers and West Virginia Black Bears.

The Scrappers’ offense then provided the thunder in a 10-6 win.

The victory lifts the Scrappers record to 9-1, the best start through 10 games in franchise history. The 2018 Scrappers — then a member of the New York-Penn League — began their season 8-2, and finished with a franchise-record 42 wins.

MV is now 7-0 at home for the first time in franchise history.

“As a manager, this is fun, especially when you’re not trying to control the players, you’re just allowing them to go out there and be themselves,” said Scrappers manager Homer Bush. “To let these guys play to their strengths and win at the same time, it’s pretty special.”

Like they have at home for most of the early season, the Scrappers grabbed an early lead and never looked back. In the first inning, Sean Tillmon reached on a one-out single, stole second and scored on a Sam Beers base hit.

One inning later, lightning struck twice to give the Scrappers a 5-0 advantage. Reed Chumley led off the bottom of the second with a towering home run to left-center — his first round-tripper of the year. A pair of walks then set the table for Tillmon, who cleared the bases with a three-run blast over the left field wall.

Three walks, a balk, a passed ball and a pair of wild pitches led to a Scrappers’ three-run fifth.

The Scrappers pounded out 11 hits, and also benefited from nine walks.

“Those walks are so underrated,” Bush said. “It’s a lot easier to get a hit than a walk. When you work the count to 2-0, 3-1 and get a hit, you really earned that at-bat. When you reach on a base on balls, you’re putting a lot of pressure on that opposing pitcher.”

In Saturday’s 6-4 win over the Black Bears, Tillmon went 4-for-5 with a double. He followed that up Sunday with a 3-for-4 day, including the home run, three RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base.

Mark Herron, Jr. also went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Bush noted that there are many factors involved when a team wins nine of its first 10 games.

“To have a run like this you gotta have a lot of luck, you have to have a lot of things clicking at the right time,” Bush said. “But what’s impressive about this run is that these guys have all bought into the idea of creating opportunities by putting pressure on everyone. Put pressure on the opposing pitcher, the opposing manager, the defense.”

“Force the opposition to adjust to what you have done. As coaches we’ve told these players to be aggressive, don’t sit back and let the game come to you. They’ve all been on board. And they’re having fun.”

The Scrappers now embark on a six-game road trip beginning Tuesday with a three-game series at Frederick. They will then visit Williamsport before returning home one week from today.

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