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Taylor Jackson, early runs propel Crosscutters over Mahoning Valley to begin homestead

Williamsport Crosscutters lead off batter Taylor Jackson hits a home run in the first inning against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 9, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Having returned from a sweep of Trenton on the road, the Crosscutters picked up right where they left off to open their six-game homestead.

Williamsport rifled off four runs in the second inning for a five-run lead before riding out a 6-1 win over Mahoning Valley at Bowman Field on Tuesday.

Despite plating four, the Crosscutters (11-4) recorded just two hits in the frame. Three walks, a pair of steals, an error and a player hit by a pitch allowed the scale to tip in Williamsport’s favor early.

“We stole a couple bases there, I think that helps the process,” Crosscutters manager Jesse Litsch said. “Errors obviously resulted to the runs, but we had those bases stolen which definitely helped that. The walks, we’ve been consistent at the plate with getting on base with walks. They came out to play and we threw the ball well again.”

Second baseman Jesse Hall knocked a one-out single before stealing second and coming home on a throwing error while taking third. Two walks and a player hit by a pitch loaded the bases after.

Williamsport Crosscutters Jesse Hall loses his glove as Gabe Gonzalez of the Scrappers runs into him as second base in the top of the 4th inning at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 9, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

At the top of the order, Taylor Jackson forced in the lead runner on a fielder’s choice. The Scrappers (4-12) went for the double play, but Jackson was called safe at first.

From there, right fielder Connor Denning sent a line drive deep left for a two RBI single. Another walk put runners on the corners before Mahoning Valley pulled out of the inning.

“I just try to provide a spark at the beginning of the lineup and try to get on base as much as I can and start something, get something going,” Jackson said.

Jackson led off the bottom of the first inning by unloading a 382-foot shot over the left-center wall just to the right of the Muncy Bank Ballpark sign for the first run of the game. It was Jackson’s first home run as a Crosscutter, as well as Williamsport’s 17th long ball of the season.

The 5-foot-10 left fielder out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign went 1 for 4 with two RBIs and a pair of runs.

Williamsport Crosscutters Nick Hussey is tagged out by Jeffrey Wehler of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 9, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

“I was just hitting the ball deep. There wasn’t a lot of velo in the beginning of the game so I was just trying to get the ball as deep as possible, get the foot down and party,” Jackson said.

Nick Meyer — who was named the league pitcher of the week after an 11-strikeout performance — struck out seven with four hits and one walk through 5 …” innings.

The University of Dayton righty worked around a single and stolen base in the fifth inning by striking out the side, preserving a four-run lead for the Crosscutters. He pitched two 1-2-3 innings and played a hand in a third.”

“It’s funny how confidence helps through a process of pitching. He’s going out there, he’s had a couple really good outings and just keeps feeding off of it,” Litsch said on Meyer. “Great defense behind him, we go out there and make the plays behind him, he throws the ball over the plate and good things happen when you throw strikes.”

Litsch added, “That’s kinda what he’s been doing and he’s been successful and hopefully he keeps rolling … he works his butt off and gets ready to pitch pretty much every Tuesday from here on out.”

Williamsport Crosscutters Connor Denning hits a single in the 2nd inning against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 9, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

The Scrappers got on the board in the fourth inning. Jeffrey Wehler singled to lead off and Gabe Gonzalez doubled him in after. Meyer forced a popout, flyout and ground ball afterward to limit the damage to one run.

Mahoning Valley went down in order four times on the night. The Scrappers made four errors to parallel their four hits. The Crosscutters recorded five hits.

“Just making the routine plays, that’s always gonna help win baseball games,” Litsch said. “Once we go get balls in the outfield, guys in the infield making plays, that’s been a key to us winning I think all year. Not just the second half, but the first half as well. Defensively, we’ve been pretty sound and they go out and get their work in early, coaches go out there and work with them and that’s how we roll.”

Daniel Harris added an RBI on a single to right field to drive in a runner from second base in the seventh inning. The University of Kentucky shortstop[ extended his on-base streak to 18 straight games, the longest active streak in the MLB Draft League.

With four straight wins, Williamsport remains in first place to kick off its latest stretch at home.

Williamsport Crosscutters Connor Denning is safe at second on a steal against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the second inning at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 9, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

“I feel like the momentum is shifting our way a lot,” Jackson said. “Especially toward the winning streak. And we plan on continuing to win.”

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