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Scrappers set for home opener tonight

NILES — Come early and stay late.

That’s the message from Mahoning Valley Scrappers general manager Heather Sahli to fans heading out to Eastwood Field tonight for the Scrappers’ home opener.

After playing three games on the road to start the season, the Scrappers will begin the home portion of their schedule tonight with the start of a three-game series against Frederick.

Tonight’s home lid-lifter, set for 7:05, is the start of a six-game homestand.

“We’re starting off with a huge promotional night to sort of set the tone for the summer,” Sahli said. “Our goal is to always provide a fun night of entertainment for the entire family.

“Opening day is going to showcase a lot of our most popular promotions.”

The Eastwood Field gates open today at 5 o’clock. A pregame concert will take place from 5-6:30 featuring the music of Suns of Beaches Band, kicking off a Margaritaville-themed night. The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a Margaritaville Scrappy bobblehead. Players will wear Margaritaville-designed jerseys, which will be available to fans via an auction.

The night will conclude with a postgame fireworks show featuring the music of Jimmy Buffet.

The first homestand of the year also includes a youth jersey giveaway (Saturday) Autism Awareness Jersey Night (Saturday), Youth League Day (Sunday), College and Career Fair (Tuesday), and the first Buck Night of the season (Thursday).

The season home schedule includes six Buck Nights, three bobblehead giveaways and eight post-game firework shows.

“We’re really excited about our home schedule this year, we feel like it’s very strong from a promotional standpoint,” Sahli said. “We get to start out with a huge Friday night. The Fourth of July lands on a Thursday, which means a Buck Night and fireworks. Our home schedule ends Aug. 29, which I think plays in our favor.”

“Our mission is always to provide family entertainment at an affordable price. We work really hard at maintaining the most popular promotions from the past while adding new ideas each year.”

Tonight will mark the start of the 26th season of the Scrappers’ presence in Niles. From 1999 to 2019 the Scrappers were a minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians and a member of the New York-Penn League. COVID canceled the entire 2020 season. Then in 2021 the Scrappers joined five other franchises as founding members of the MLB Draft League.

In May, Major League Baseball announced that its affiliation with the Draft League has been extended through at least the 2030 season.

“In three short years, the MLB Draft League has done exactly what we had hoped, as it has provided players another chance to be evaluated by scouts from all MLB clubs both before and after the draft,” Sean Campbell, President of the MLB Draft League, said. “The league has also kept professional-caliber baseball in six terrific baseball cities, and we are most appreciative of the fans that come out to watch these players chase their dreams of playing in the Major Leagues.”

Campbell noted that the league also hopes to expand by two teams “in the near future.”

Since its founding in 2021, the MLB Draft League has had 233 players sign with MLB organizations. Of those,133 were selected in the annual 20-round MLB Draft, and another 103 players signed as free agents.

Scrappers first-year manager Quinton McCracken says he is looking forward to his first game at Eastwood Field.

“Opening days in baseball are always special,” McCracken said. “I’ve heard so much about the atmosphere and the fan support in the Mahoning Valley. I know the stadium is going to be filled with fans. It’s going to be an exciting night for myself and for all the players.”

The Scrappers will be looking to even their record tonight. After suffering back-to-back losses to the Crosscutters to start the season, the Scrappers on Thursday won the final game of the three-game series.

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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