Scrappers finish sweep
10-4 victory over West Va. completes 4-game series
By STEVE RUMAN
NILES — There’s an old adage in baseball which suggests a walk is as good as a hit.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers turned walks into runs throughout their four-game series against West Virginia, and as a result they are 4-0 as they embark on their first road trip of the season.
The Scrappers on Sunday defeated the Black Bears 10-4 in front of an afternoon Eastwood Field crowd of both humans and dogs. Bark At The Park Day brought several dozen canines to the stadium.
West Virginia pitchers issued 22 walks in the four-game series, resulting in 17 runs.
The Scrappers benefitted from a pair of walks in a four-run third inning. A bases-loaded walk pushed across the first run of the inning. Then back-to-back doubles off the bats of Anthony Hansen and Owen Jackson gave the Scrappers a 4-1 lead.
In the top of the fourth, it was West Virginia’s turn to walk its way to a big inning. Scrappers pitchers combined to issue four walks in the frame, allowing the Black Bears to tie the game at 4-4.
The Scrappers flexed their muscles in the fifth to take the lead for good. Back-to-back doubles by Jackson and Mark Herron Jr. plated a pair of runs. Matt Archer followed with a two-run home run, giving the Scrappers an 8-4 advantage.
Sam Beers knocked in a run in the seventh with the Scrappers’ sixth double of the day. Tommy Benson capped the scoring with a solo homer in the eighth.
The Scrappers now will play three games in State College beginning Tuesday before returning home on Friday to face West Virginia again.
LIVING THE DREAM
Scrappers pitcher Eric Sapp lived out a childhood dream Friday when he earned the start at home against West Virginia.
Sapp worked four innings, giving up just one run on three hits. He recorded five strikeouts. The Scrappers defeated the Black Bears 3-2.
Sapp hails from nearby Deerfield. He is a 2016 graduate of Ravenna Southeast High School.
“I grew up coming to Scrappers games. I was that little kid who dreamed of one day wearing that uniform and playing on that field,” Sapp said. “I used to always play launch-a-ball after the games with my cousin. We never aimed for the targets; we just always had our own contest to see who could throw the farthest.”
Sapp was with the Scrappers for roughly a month last year, and worked exclusively in relief. Most of his appearances were on the road.
Friday, he had the opportunity to pitch in front of family and friends on what was a special day in more ways than one for the Sapp family. Eric’s brother Jaidyn graduated from Southeast earlier that evening. The ceremony was held at Packard Music Hall in Warren. Following graduation ceremonies the family made its way to Eastwood Field.
Sapp recently concluded his career at Gannon, where he worked 77.1 innings, recording 99 strikeouts while posting a 2.21 ERA.
Oddly enough, he set preseason goals of 100 strikeouts and a 2.20 ERA.
“I should be upset for getting that close, but the reality is my numbers prior to this year weren’t close to being this good so I’m thrilled with the way my college career ended,” Sapp said.
Sapp credits his 2021 experience with the Scrappers for his recent success.
“Last summer (Scrappers pitching coach Ron Mahay) and the rest of the coaches helped me so very much, both from a pitching and mental standpoint,” Sapp said. “Also, the experience of facing some of the best college players in the country really helped elevate my game.”