NOTEBOOK | Scrappers

Rough outing: Scrappers manager Tim Laker walked out of his office following Friday’s 7-1 loss, looked at the four reporters in front of him and said, “You stayed for the whole thing, huh? I guess you had to.” Friday’s game was the biggest career start for Mahoning Valley’s 18-year-old lefty Kelvin De La Cruz and nerves may have played a big part in his performance. De La Cruz gave up six runs (all earned) on one hit and five walks. “He’s a young kid and it was his first start under the lights in front of a crowd and I think he got caught up in it,” said Laker. “I’m sure he was nervous and he was just trying to impress us.” De La Cruz, a native of the Dominican Republic, had been impressive in the Gulf Coast League before getting called up earlier in the week. He went 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA, striking out 20 compared to just two walks in 18 innings. “I saw him throw four, five, six times in extended spring training and tonight was not the real him,” Laker said. “He’s an 18-year-old and it’s just one game.” After seven of the first eight batters reached, Laker lifted him. “We wanted to give him a chance to work out of it,” he said. “We probably kept him out there longer than the fans wanted to see.”
Local connection: Warren Harding High graduate Justin Byler, who also played at Howland, was second in the New York-Penn League in batting entering Friday’s games with a .400 average. Byler plays for State College, which had a nine-game winning streak snapped Thursday night.
Streak snapped: Scrappers outfielder Matt Brown went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts to snap his seven-game hitting streak.

Joe Scalzo

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