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Scrappers lose in sudden death 9-8 to Black Bears

One night after suffering a 17-3 setback to West Virginia, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers experienced a heartbreaking 9-8 sudden-death loss to the Black Bears in front of 1,532 fans at Eastwood Field.

The Scrappers and Black Bears traded leads four times in the first three innings, with the Scrappers scoring five times in the third to take a 7-4 lead. The Scrappers would build their lead to 8-4 in the fourth on a Beau Ankeney home run, only to allow a late West Virginia rally.

The Scrappers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second courtesy of a pair of RBI infield singles by Josh Schroeder and Jordan Donahue.

After West Virginia regained the lead at 4-2 in the top of the third, the Scrappers immediately answered the call in the bottom half of the frame. Tripp Clark provided the biggest spark with a two-run triple.

The Black Bears scored a pair of runs in the sixth and one in the eighth to cut their deficit to 8-7. Mauricio Millan then led off the ninth with a home run to tie the game at 8-8. The Scrappers were retired in order in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game into sudden death.

The Scrappers chose to take the field in the extra frame, with a WV runner on first base. Millan then came through again for the visitors, knocking the winning run home from third with a two-out single.

Donahue led the Scrappers’ offense with a 3-for-5 night at the plate, knocking in two runs. Garret Pike and Schroeder each added a pair of hits.

The Scrappers (8-5) will begin a four-game set tonight at Williamsport.

PIKE OFF TO HOT START

When Garret Pike arrived at Eastwood Field on June 12, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers were already seven games into their schedule.

Pike, added to the roster that day, hadn’t faced live pitching for close to a month. He took batting practice and “hoped for the best” when he was inserted into the Scrappers’ lineup for the first time.

By the end of the night, Pike had the third-highest RBI total on a team that was averaging eight runs per game at the time.

In his Mahoning Valley debut, Pike went 3-for-5 and knocked in seven runs in a 16-3 Scrappers win over State College. Pike’s final hit of the night was a two-out grand slam in the sixth inning.

“Things turned out all right. It was a nice way to start things out at Mahoning Valley,” Pike said. “I don’t ever remember a game where I had that type of run production, so it felt really good to get off to a strong start here.

“Ironically, I hit a grand slam in my first game of summer ball in the Great Lakes League three years ago. I was thinking about that when I was in the on-deck circle (last Tuesday). It was pretty crazy how things played out.”

Pike’s grand entrance into the MLB Draft League is just the latest in a string of success for the Waterville, Ohio native.

As a senior at Anthony Wayne High School in 2021, Pike hit .534 with 53 RBIs and nine home runs. He also went 8-2 as a pitcher with a 1.48 ERA. For his efforts, he was named Ohio’s Player of the Year. He also made first-team all-league in both basketball and football.

“Earning player of the year honors was really special. It kind of justified all of the hard work I put in during the (2020) COVID year when we couldn’t play any games,” Pike said. “I did anything I could to stay on top of my game. It all paid off.

“I really credit (Wayne manager) Mark Nell with my success in high school. He always pushed me, because he believed in me. His constant confidence in me helped me build confidence in myself.”

Pike spent the past three years building his resume at the University of Toledo. Earlier this spring, Pike was named a third-team All-American after batting .360 with 21 home runs and 55 RBIs. He finished in the top five in the Mid-American Conference in six different offensive categories.

With the Rockets, Pike owns a three-year batting average of .341, with a school-record 42 career home runs. His 21 dingers this year is a single-season school record.

While manning center field this spring for the first time in his career, Pike committed just one error. He played shortstop throughout his high school career. He moved to third base upon his arrival at Toledo, then moved to first base by the end of his freshman season. He made the switch to outfield at the start of his sophomore season, playing right field, before switching to center field this past spring.

“I was lucky in that I had the natural ability to read the ball from the outfield, and I had the natural arm motion for an outfielder,” Pike said. “The transition from infielder to outfielder wasn’t too overwhelming.”

While the grand slam was Pike’s first homer as a Scrapper, it wasn’t his first home run at Eastwood Field. On April 9 Pike homered, knocked in a pair of runs and scored three runs in a Toledo 18-8 win over Youngstown State.

Pike, a finance major, noted that he recently entered the transfer portal and “is looking at all options” regarding his final year of athletic eligibility at the collegiate level. In the meantime, numerous national MLB draft-related websites project that Pike’s name could be called in the early rounds of the upcoming July draft.

“Right now, I just want to take one day at a time and focus on my role here in the Mahoning Valley,” Pike said. “If my name is called on draft day we’ll have a decision to make and we’ll go from here.

“I’m just happy I was able to start off summer ball on a good note.”

Have an interesting story? Contact the Sports Department by email at sports@tribtoday.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribChronSports.

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