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Matthew Etzel records first home run at Bowman Field, Crosscutters down Mahoning Valley

Crosscutters second baseman Edarian Williams makes a catch against Mahoning Valley at Bowman Field on Friday. JUDI PINKERTON/Sun-Gazette correspondent

The brand new video board at Muncy Bank Ballpark was the talk of the offseason. Sitting on the left wall, fans can get a good look at it during games and take in its clear line score and flashy, multicolored graphics.

In the sixth inning, all heads were turned the complete opposite direction to follow Matthew Etzel’s ball sail over the right wall as the first-hole batter slugged a three run homer to pull away late.

The Crosscutters defeated Mahoning Valley, 9-5 at Bowman Field on Friday in a 12-hit smackdown of the MLB Draft League’s top club.

The home run marked Williamsport’s first long ball in its own ballpark. The only other home run made by the Crosscutters (8-5) was on the road — also made by the Crosscutters’ leadoff man.

“It was a lot cooler. You have your own fans at the park hitting it out,” Etzel said. “It was also cool hitting it by the bullpen for the pitchers.”

Crosscutters' shortstop Josue Urdaneta makes a slide against Mahoning Valley at Bowman Field Friday. JUDI PINKERTON/Sun-Gazette correspondent

Etzel emptied the clip, going 5 for 5 with a double and rattling off four RBIs and three runs with a .475 batting average. He also made a catch in stride at center field to keep the Scrappers off the board in the fifth inning.

Just two days prior, Etzel became the first Crosscutter to record multiple triples in a game since the club joined the MLB Draft League. After knocking the bulk of his hits this season to the infield for singles, the Panola College sophomore is starting to catch them in the barrel.

“I’m definitely seeing the ball better at the plate,” Etzel said. “I was pretty aggressive today, swung at a lot of first pitches and good things happened.”

Batting fourth in the lineup, Jax Cash’s first at-bat in his Crosscutters debut was a two-out RBI single to center.

Cash went 2 for 5. Right fielder Cole Evans and third baseman Sabin Ceballos plated a pair of runs apiece. The Crosscutters stole a season-high four bases without getting thrown out once.

Crosscutters first baseman Hogan McIntosh catches a ball on a groundout against Mahoning Valley at Bowman Field on Friday. JUDI PINKERTON/Sun-Gazette correspondent

“Any win is a confidence-builder, but they got a good squad over there and good coaching staff,” Williamsport manager Jesse Litsch said. “They’re coming at us tomorrow. We’re ready for it, it’s fun. It makes the game more fun, we go at them, they come at us and one of us is gonna come out on top.”

Mahoning Valley (10-3) cut its deficit to three runs in the top of the sixth. A wild pitch brought in the lead runner before a sacrifice fly from Reed Chumley closed the gap further.

Bobby Sparling added a second sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth. With the bases loaded later in the frame, a walk forced in a run.

The Scrappers entered the game tied with Trenton for the most bases stolen in the league at 29. Mahoning Valley made sure to test Williamsport’s infield often. The Crosscutters stranded nine runners on the night.

“Guys holding runners, catcher (Cash) did a really good job, catch and throw, so it was kinda one of those things where we talk it and gotta execute,” Litsch said.

Crosscuters pitcher Jason Rackers throws out a pitch in his debut on the mound for Williamsport against Mahoning Valley on Friday. JUDI PINKERTON/Sun-Gazette correspondent

Williamsport had wind in its sails in the third inning but didn’t travel far. With one out, a base hit from Hogan McIntosh to left-center put runners on the corners with one out. Cash then singled on a ground ball to load the bases.

A double play then erased all the baserunners and the Crosscutters were unable to bolster their two-run lead over the Scrappers.

Mahoning Valley made 10 hits on the day with two errors as opposed to Williamsport’s lone error late in the game.

“We put together some good at-bats, made some great double plays that helped save some runs for sure. Save some innings, save some pitches for pitchers,” Litsch said. “Guys came in, threw strikes and got the job done.”

Josue Urdaneta drove in Etzel with a single in the third inning and forced in two runs with the help of an error on the Scrappers in the following inning. Etzel drove in a run before Urdaneta’s scoring play in the fourth.

McIntosh hit an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. Sparling drove in one last run in the final frame.

“It’s always nice to get a win against early first-place teams, especially at home,” Etzel said. “Especially for the start of the series.”

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