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Mahoning Valley avoids a sweep, snaps Crosscutters’ win streak

Williamsport Crosscutters first baseman Carter Mize loses the ball as he attempts the tag on Ron Washington of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the fifth inning at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 11, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Mahoning Valley was having a problematic series. Almost as many errors as hits and just two runs apiece in its first two games in Williamsport this week, the Scrappers hoped to at least get something going before getting back on the bus.

That’s exactly what they did, biting back at the Crosscutters in their series finale in a 4-2 win at Bowman Field on Thursday.

EJ Taylor gave Williamsport (12-5) life by cutting it to a two-run game in the penultimate inning. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound third baseman put one in left field to drive in two runners and advanced to second base on the play.

“It was a little bit of a spark, but we were dead at the dish all day,” Crosscutters manager Jesse Litsch said. “It’s just one of those days, 4-2 game. Can’t do anything about it, gotta go back out there tomorrow.”

Consecutive base hits and a player hit by a pitch loaded the bases for Mahoning Valley (6-13) in the second inning. A walk forced in the initial run and a wild pitch brought in another immediately after.

Williamsport Crosscutters EJ Taylor rounds first base on a double in the bottom of the fourth against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 11, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

First baseman Gabe Gonzalez singled on a hard ground ball for an RBI in the following inning. After a stalemate fourth, the Scrappers put up another run after shortstop Jeffrey Wehler led off with a base hit to center, worked his way to third base and scampered home on another wild pitch.

George Fox University righty Isaac Olson took the win after pitching five shutout innings with five strikeouts and four hits allowed. He improved his ERA to 2.78 on the season.

“He just kept them off balance,” Litsch said on Olson. “He hit his spots pretty well and pitched backwards. He had an idea of how to pitch and that goes a long way.”

The Crosscutters got close to chipping away at their deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning. A one-out walk from Chris Swanberg was coupled by a double from Jesse Hall.

With one out to go at the top of the order, Taylor Jackson took two strikes and battled back to a 2-2 count. He then lined out, preserving Mahoning Valley’s four-run cushion.

Williamsport Crosscutters Connor Denning and Mahoning Valley Scrappers pitcher Isaac Olson watch a ball hit by Denning roll foul in the first inning at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 11, 2022. The Scrappers won 4-2. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Williamsport was able to knock the Scrappers down in order in the following frame and Connor Denning led off afterward by roping a ball to right field. For a brief time, it looked like the Crosscutters were gaining traction.

“It was one of those things where one foot one way or another, we got a chance,” Litsch said. “That’s how baseball is. You hit a couple balls hard and they get caught, and they did the same thing. That’s the game. You gotta play the game all nine innings and you never know what can happen. We hit that ball three feet to the right, just one of those things. Game of inches as they say.”

In his first home appearance since July 22, Louisiana Tech right-hander Jarrett Whorff pitched the first five innings, allowing six hits, four runs, three walks with two strikeouts. Colin Kennedy pitched three innings of relief, striking out four with one hit and one walk.

Williamsport was outhit 7-6 and registered two errors. Taylor and Scrappers right fielder Ron Washington were the only two players to record multiple hits with two knocks apiece for their respective clubs.

After falling to West Virginia in sudden death at home, State College (10-9) will come to Bowman Field for a series against the Crosscutters as both clubs vy for control of the MLB Draft LEague standings midway through August.

“We just gotta go out and play our game. Keep doing what we’re doing,” Litsch said. “Obviously we’re I think three games up on them and it’d be nice to pull away a little bit, but it’s baseball. We lose three, we’re still right where we need to be. The plan is to never lose, we go out there and play the game. We play our game, we’ll be fine.”

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