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Scrappers win 3rd straight over WV

NILES – Mahoning Valley Scrappers fans were treated to post-game fireworks following the first two games of the season. On Saturday at Eastwood Field, the fireworks were provided during the game courtesy of the Scrappers’ offense.

Trailing 4-1, the Scrappers sent 11 men to the plate and scored six runs in the sixth inning en route to a 12-5 win over the West Virginia Black Bears.

The Scrappers (3-0) have won three straight over the Black Bears to start the season.

Owen Jackson and Xavier Carter each knocked in a pair of runs in the sixth inning with bases-loaded singles.

In the seventh, the Scrappers scored three runs courtesy of four walks and an error.

Trailing 2-0, the Scrappers broke through in the fourth inning after West Virginia starter Cedric de Grandpre retired the first nine batters he faced, seven on strikeouts.

Scrappers leadoff hitter Buck Anderson opened the bottom of the fourth with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch then scored on a groundout. de Grandpre then gave up a walk and a single, but escaped further damage courtesy of a double play.

West Virginia pitchers recorded 13 strikeouts, but also issued eight walks. The Black Bears’ defense also committed a pair of errors.

The Scrappers and Black Bears conclude their four-game series 2:05 p.m. today.

WALKER MAKES

HIS RETURN

When Scrappers infielder Jacob Walker was inserted into the lineup Friday night, it marked the first time he played in a game in nearly three months.

Walker recently completed his sophomore season at Lake Land Community College (Mattoon, IL). Following a stellar freshman season in 2021, the Lafayette (IN) native had his 2022 campaign cut short due to an ankle injury. Beginning in mid-March, he spent eight weeks wearing a protective boot, which was followed by two weeks of rehab.

Despite the physical challenges, Walker noted that the emotional pain was his biggest obstacle.

“It was brutal having to watch my teammates play while I was sitting on a scooter,” Walker said. “When things got tough, all I could do is put my head down and wish I was out there on the field with them. Not being able to play showed me how much I love the game.”

Walker said that pregame jitters weren’t an issue Friday.

“I was more excited than anything else,” Walker said. “I just couldn’t wait to get back on the field. I heard so much about this league and about the velocity of the pitchers. I’m very anxious to see where I fit in and how I stack up with some of the best players in college ball.”

Though his home is just one state to the west, Walker admitted he had little prior knowledge of the Mahoning Valley.

“I didn’t even know it existed until (Thursday) night, I never even knew there was a minor league team here for the past twenty years,” Walker said. “Then I come here, and the facility is super and this is by far the most fans I’ve ever played in front of.”

“I love the landscape here. I’m here to play baseball, but I’m anxious to see as much of the area as I can.”

sports@tribtoday.com

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