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Scrappers falter for seventh straight game in 9-3 loss to Trenton

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Mahoning Valley Scrappers pitcher Carson Fluno fires a pitch towards home plate Wednesday evening at Eastwood Field in Niles. Fluno threw three innings of three-hit ball but walked three and gave up two earned runs in the Scrappers’ seventh straight loss.

NILES — For the first time this season, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers find themselves looking up in the MLB Draft League standings.

The Scrappers suffered their seventh consecutive loss on Wednesday, this time a 9-3 defeat at the hands of Trenton.

The Thunder’s three-game sweep of MV, combined with a Williamsport rainout at West Virginia moves the Crosscutters one-half game ahead of the Scrappers (10-8).

Already leading 3-0, the Thunder put four runs on the scoreboard in the seventh inning to blow the game wide open. Colby Backus (4-for-5) singled in a pair of runs in the inning. He later scored on a wild pitch.

Trenton pitching limited MV to just one hit through the first six innings while facing just one batter over the minimum.

In the seventh, the Scrappers broke through in controversial fashion. A one-out Bobby Sparling single was followed by a Zach Dezenzo home run. A video replay showed that Dezenzo’s hit actually bounced off the playing field and over the right field wall.

On Monday, a foul ball hit by Trenton catcher Andrew Cossetti was ruled a home run.

An eighth inning Sean Tillmon double plated the Scrappers’ final run.

The Scrappers begin a three-game home series against Williamsport tonight at 7:05.

FAMILY AFFAIR

A number of MLB Draft League players reside with host families during their summer stays in their respective towns.

Trenton infielder Jeff Manto has the luxury of not only living with his own family, but also traveling to and from the ballpark each day with his dad.

The Manto’s live in Bristol, PA. Their home is a short 15 minute drive to Trenton’s home stadium.

Jeff Manto Sr. serves as the Thunder manager.

“It’s a crazy experience, especially because he’s never coached me at any level until I got here,” Manto Jr. said. “At first it was a little awkward but once we got into playing and practicing it was awesome. He’s a great teacher and when we’re on the field it’s pretty much just a coach/player relationship.

“Baseball is a game that you can’t play for long. I appreciate it more and more with each passing day. To be able to enjoy this part of my career with my dad is something I’ll always cherish.”

Manto Sr. spent 16 years in professional baseball and played for eight different Major League teams. He was part of three World Series teams, including the 1997 Cleveland Indians. He also spent time as a hitting coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago White Sox.

Manto Jr. recently completed his playing career at Villanova, where he graduated with a degree in communications.

“In an age where baseball has become very individualistic, my dad preaches the importance of having respect for the game,” Manto Jr. said. “Baseball is such a difficult game. He focuses on the mental aspect of the game. He brings such invaluable knowledge to all of us.”

Because Manto Jr. has graduated, he is eligible to play with Trenton the entire season. He hopes to have his name called in the upcoming MLB draft, or sign as a free agent. Playing in an Independent League is also an option.

“I’d love to continue playing at the next level, it’s always been my dream,” Manto Jr. said. “If that doesn’t happen I hope to maybe stay in the game by way of a front office or advertising position.”

As for those rides to and from the ballpark with dad?

“Well when we win, we talk about pretty much anything,” Manto Jr. said. “Following a loss, it’s all baseball.”

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