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Scrappers relieved to defeat Black Bears

Springfield grad helping bullpen

NILES — Gray skies and a passing thunderstorm threatened the start of Sunday’s game between the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and West Virginia Black Bears.

However, the rain and clouds gave way to sunshine and, once the game started, a much-maligned Scrappers’ bullpen shined.

A trio of Scrappers relievers combined to work five innings, giving up just one run in the ninth. By then, the Scrappers were well on their way to a 10-6 win over the Black Bears.

The Scrappers salvaged the final game of the series and lifted their record to 24-28-2.

The offense also had plenty of heroes on Sunday. Buck Anderson went 4-for-5 with a pair of stolen bases. Bobby Sparling continued his hitting barrage with a 3-for-4 game. Sparling is hitting .362 with 40 RBI. Jason Hinchman took over the league lead in RBI (43) in the eighth inning when he belted a three-run homer. Zaid Walker hit a two-run blast in the second inning.

Scrappers starter John Medich gave up five runs in four innings of work.

Elijah Pleasants relieved Medich in the fifth and worked three scoreless innings, giving up just one hit with four strikeouts.

Mathews High product Adam Wibert pitched a scoreless eighth. Yo Yo Nunez finished the night. He hit a batter and gave up a double, resulting in the Black Bears’ final run.

While the pitching staff as a whole has had its share of struggles, Jarrett Orbin has shined in his short time with the team. Orbin is a 2019 graduate of Springfield High School. He was added to the roster on Wednesday and made his first appearance out of the bullpen on Thursday. He faced six batters, retiring them all, including two on strikeouts.

Orbin made his second appearance on Saturday with the exact same results. Six up, six down, with a pair of strikeouts.

Ironically, Orbin’s first pitch in a Scrappers uniform wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty.

“I threw one in the dirt, it wasn’t close to crossing the plate,” Orbin said with a laugh. “Yeah, there were jitters. This was by far and away the biggest crowd I had ever played in front of. There were family and friends in the stadium. Here I am standing on the mound at Eastwood Field.

“I just kind of told myself that I was on my own and I had to stay focused and buckle down. No one is going to come out and give me pointers after every pitch. I had to relax and just pitch. Once I threw a few more with success, I forgot about all the nerves.”

Surprisingly, Orbin is enjoying success as a pitcher even though he has been a catcher his entire career. He played the position all through high school and in his first two years at Geneva College.

Orbin was pressed into pitching earlier this month with his summer league team.

“We just needed arms, so I gave it a try,” Orbin said. “It’s crazy. If you would have told me a couple of months ago that I’d be on the Scrappers roster and I’d be pitching, I would have thought that was the craziest statement ever.”

Because of COVID, Orbin still has four years of remaining collegiate eligibility.

“Being with the Scrappers is the absolute greatest experience in the world,” he said. “It’s the greatest baseball experience ever. This can do nothing but help my baseball career.”

“No matter how far I go with baseball, no matter how long I play, I’ll always benefit from being here this summer.”

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