Crosscutters win fifth straight game, 3-1 over Mahoning Valley
Since joining the Crosscutters, Blair Frederick has been making the most of his first professional baseball stint in Williamsport.
Entering the game with a 1.10 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, the southpaw out of Xavier University once again tattooed the strike zone with one run through five innings en route to a 3-1 win over the Scrappers at Bowman Field Wednesday. The game marked the Crosscutters’ fifth straight win.
“Definitely the more I go out there I get more comfortable, but mainly the defense has been working really hard for me,” Frederick said. “Just trying to really trust in them and that really helps me out a lot.”
The 6-foot, 210-pound lefty struck out three with three hits allowed and walked six. Frederick improved his ERA to 0.84 on the season.
Alongside Frederick, the entire Crosscutters (12-4) pitching staff has struck out a league-high 506 batters this season with seven punch outs made in the second game with the Scrappers (5-13). Williamsport is the first team to surpass 500 strikeouts.
“I think we just have great chemistry in the clubhouse and everybody trusts each other and knows that if the ball is put in play, we’re probably gonna get an out so just having that fact kinda helps you relax a little bit,” Frederick said.
Carter Mize hit a two-out single and EJ Taylor took a ball to the shoulder to give the Crosscutters two runners on in the bottom of the first. Daniel Harris drove in Mize for the first run of the game before being picked off on the play to retire the side.
Five scoreless frames later, Williamsport put another on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning. Back-to-back errors by Mahoning Valley allowed runners to reach base and left fielder Taylor Jackson — who hit his first homer of the summer the night prior — recorded his third RBI of the series with a line drive to center.
Harris, Mize and Nicholas Hussey all recorded two hits. Catcher Zach Miller added a single and both teams made eight knocks each.
“Those guys keep feeding off of each other,” Crosscutters manager Jesse Litsch said. “We’re going out and doing what we need to do to win games. Our defense has been outstanding. Our pitchers went out, threw strikes and battled. Blair didn’t necessarily have his best stuff today, but he went out there, battled and got us through five (innings) and the bullpen came in and did their job.”
Through the first two games of the series, errors have plagued Mahoning Valley. In the fifth inning, a throwing error on the catcher allowed Mize to score. It was the Scrappers’ third error of the game, as well as the seventh in two nights.
“It definitely makes a difference,” Litsch said on the errors. “One ball here, one ball there. I think we scored on the throw from the catcher, that was a big part of the game and got us in the lead. It’s one of those things where you gotta play the game full out and hope we come out on the other end of it, the good end of it. With us playing through errors, just gotta keep playing through it one way or the other.”
Former Crosscutters catcher Taj Porter put his new squad on the board against his old team in the sixth inning. With two runners on, he drove in the lead runner with a line drive to right field. Ron Washington hit a two-out triple in the eighth, but a groundout prevented a second run.
Mahoning Valley has scored just two runs this series. Williamsport entered the game with a .970 fielding percentage, tied with West Virginia for the highest in the MLB Draft League.
“(It’s) the daily work. They go out there, get their ground balls in batting practice and put in the work,” Litsch said. “The coaches go with them and it’s just a part of the process of being an everyday professional baseball player and if you put in the work, good things are gonna happen. You’re gonna have failure in this game as well, but if you put in the work and put in the effort, good things are gonna happen.”
With runners in scoring position in the top of the ninth inning, a groundout iced the game before the gap could be closed. Eleven Mahoning Valley runners were left on base while 10 Crosscutters were left stranded.
“I think we try to stay level-headed and just keep working,” Frederick said. “Don’t get too high on it and show up to the ballpark ready to play and trust each other.”