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Scrappers lose 7th straight game

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Scrappers infielder Yo Yo Nunez walks off the field after being thrown out at first in the second inning

NILES — Throughout the first five games of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ post-draft slump, offense wasn’t an issue. The Scrappers averaged seven runs a game, but woeful pitching prevented them from logging a win.

On Wednesday at Eastwood Field, the offense had a rare off-night, the pitchers continued to struggle and the result was a 10-3 State College win.

Mahoning Valley (19-23-2) has now lost seven straight and 13 of its last 14 games.

State College scored all the runs it would need with a six-run third inning. Scrappers starter John Medich (Georgia Tech) surrendered two walks and two singles, and also hit a pair of batters to start the third. That was enough to give the Spikes a 2-0 lead and load the bases for Marques Paige, who belted a grand slam over the left field wall.

The Scrappers scored their three runs in the sixth when Jason Hinchman belted his team-high fifth home run of the season. The Scrappers were limited to just five hits.

The recent slump for Mahoning Valley comes at a time when the team remains in transition.

Scrappers outfielder Sam Crail is one of about five players who have been a part of the starting lineup for the majority of the season. The rest of the lineup has been a day-to-day juggling act, especially since the MLB Draft.

The pitching staff has been completely revamped with the exception of Kerry Wright.

Crail said that the revolving door has made for an interesting clubhouse.

“It’s pretty unique, it’s pretty crazy to come into the clubhouse and meet a whole new team of players mid-season,” Crail said. “I miss those guys we lost, we were all a tight-knit group. But these new guys are great. They’ve come in here ready to play and ready to compete.”

“The way I look at it, we’re all in this for the same reason. We all have the same goals so we’re in this together.”

Like many of his teammates, Crail was glued to the recent draft, hoping that his play with the Scrappers was enough to get a call from an MLB franchise.

“The draft was a fun experience, it was fun watching buddies of mine have their dream come true,” Crail said. “Of course, I wanted to hear my name and I was disappointed it didn’t happen but right now I’m just happy to be back on the field playing.

“I feel like I caught a second wind during the break. Mentally, it was nice to get away and spend time with my family for the first time since Christmas.”

Knowing that he will likely not sign a free agent contract this summer, Crail is now looking ahead to continuing his collegiate career.

“The first half of the season I was definitely focusing more on putting up numbers to raise my draft stock,” Crail said. “Now, it’s back to the basics, back to the fundamentals and putting myself in the best possible position for when I return to (St. Leo’s) college next year.”

“I’ll be on the baseball field in some way until I can’t play any longer.”

The Scrappers and Spikes conclude their three-game series tonight at 7:05.

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