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Scrappers win despite continued pitching wildness

Scrappers win despite continued pitching wildness

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Mahoning Valley’s Branden Comia loses his batting helmet before sliding into third base during Thursday evening’s game against State College at Eastwood Field.

NILES — In baseball, it is often suggested that a walk is as good as a base hit.

Lately, for Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ opponents, walks have equated to wins.

As a staff, Scrappers pitchers have surrendered 134 bases on balls through 20 games. Even when the Scrappers started the season with six consecutive wins, opponents worked an average of eight free passes per game.

Entering Thursday’s game against State College, the Scrappers had lost six of nine games.

On Thursday at Eastwood Field, the Scrappers were once again wild, but the Spikes were even wilder and sloppy. The result was a 10-8 Scrappers win over the Spikes in front of a lively Buck Night crowd.

Scrappers pitchers combined to issue seven walks. They also hit two batters and threw a wild pitch.

The Spikes had an even rougher night, issuing nine walks, four hit batsmen, a pair of wild pitches and they also committed three errors.

“With most of our pitchers, the velocity is there but it’s a matter of control, of finding the strike zone and working the plate,” said Scrappers pitching coach Ron Mahay. “Pitching is so much more than just throwing hard.”

“Everyone wants to see the radar gun these days. You still have to pitch. You still have to have ball, movement and location.”

The lack of control is an issue throughout the MLB Draft League Yet despite the rough start, Mahay believes the pitching will improve in the near future.

“Most of our guys came to us having not pitched for two or three weeks,” Mahay said. “We’re playing catch-up. You always lose some of your precision when you don’t face live bats for awhile. We’re still trying to find our groove and I think that’s the case with all six teams in this league.”

Walks proved costly right from the start. Scrappers starter Joe Micelli issued back-to-back walks to start the game. The Spikes then pounded out three doubles to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Micelli entered the game with a 2-0 record, having not surrendered a run through nine innings. On Thursday he worked just 2.2 innings, giving up the three runs on four hits. He also issued three walks.

The Scrappers would eventually tie the game at 3-3 when Jack Kelly plated Jason Hinchman on a sacrifice fly in the second. One inning later the Scrappers scored a pair of runs.

Jarod Belbin picked up an RBI with a base hit, then Dan Harwood was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

The Spikes immediately responded with a four-run fourth. The big blow in the inning was a three-run home run off the bat of Nathan Church. Two of the runs that scored in the inning reached base by way of walks.

MV again rallied, this time with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Scrappers took advantage of a walk, an error and a wild pitch. All of that, combined with a Harwood two-RBI single cut the Spikes’ lead to 7-6.

The Scrappers then scored four runs in the ninth after loading the bases on three walks. Sam Crail gave the Scrappers the lead with a two-RBI double.

The Scrappers begin a three-game home series tonight against West Virginia.

sports@vindy.com

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