Scrappers grind out 3-2 victory over West Virginia

NILES – One night after pounding out 10 hits and scoring seven runs, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ offense was cooled off Friday, collecting just five hits.

However, patience proved to be a virtue for the Scrappers, and the result was a 3-2 home win over the West Virginia Black Bears.

Like they did a year ago, the Scrappers open the season with a pair of wins over West Virginia.

Trailing 2-1, MV scored a pair of runs in the seventh without hitting a ball beyond the pitcher’s mound.

Black Bears pitcher Tyler Johnson issued three walks and threw three wild pitches in the inning. One run scored on a wild pitch while a second run scored on a bases-loaded groundout to Johnson. A pair of strikeouts prevented the Scrappers from adding additional runs.

The Black Bears scored the first run of the game in the top of the fourth inning. Blaze Brothers led off the frame with a triple, then scored on a Tahir Muelens groundout.

Scrappers starting pitcher Eric Sapp worked the first four innings, giving up just the lone run on three hits. The lefty recorded five strikeouts.

Sapp is a Deerfield native and a 2016 graduate of Ravenna Southeast High School. He recently completed his senior season at Gannon College where he worked 77.1 innings, recording 99 strikeouts while posting a 2.21 ERA.

The Scrappers tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth when Xavier Carter (San Diego State) belted the team’s first home run of the season – a line drive over the right field wall.

West Virginia wasted no time regaining the lead. In the top of the sixth, Brothers belted a towering home run to left, giving WV a 2-1 lead.

Scrappers reliever Ricky Mineo worked a perfect ninth, retiring the Black Bears in order on just five pitches.


Even though he plays for the visiting West Virginia Black Bears, Sam Crail looks right at home at Eastwood Field – and with good reason.

A year ago, Crail donned a Mahoning Valley uniform and was a regular in the Scrappers lineup. In fact, he finished fifth in the MLB Draft League in RBI production.

Crail — a fifth-year senior who recently completed his college eligibility at St. Leo College — opted to return to the Draft League this summer. He was assigned a spot on the Black Bears roster.

Crail already has collected five base hits in his first two games against his old team.

“It’s pretty crazy to be back here but in the other dugout and in the other locker room,” Crail said. “It’s just where they placed me, I had no say in which team I would play for.

“It was pretty nice for me to start the season (at Eastwood Field) because I’m so familiar and so comfortable with the stadium. I feel really comfortable on this field.”

With his college career complete, Crail said he will use this summer as an opportunity to showcase his talents to professional scouts.

“Last summer I kind of knew I was going back to school, but now I’m going to treat this like a professional tryout,” Crail said. “I was so anxious to return to this league. It’s really as good as it gets in terms of summer league ball.”

“Here the competition level all across the board is outstanding. And the coaching is by far better than anything you’ll see in any other college summer league. This league is as close to professional ball as you’ll get.”

Crail said that he will always cherish his time in the Mahoning Valley.

“I made some great friends here and some incredible baseball memories,” Crail said. “I’ll be telling stories about 2021 for the rest of my life.”

The Scrappers and Black Bears continue their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. today.



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