GRANVILLE, W.Va. – On a Sunday afternoon showdown at Monongalia County Ballpark, the West Virginia Black Bears dropped the game and the series to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers with the 8-2 loss.
After starting pitcher Luke Eldred and the West Virginia defense retired the side to begin the game, the Bears entered the bottom half of the first frame hoping to jump out to an early lead. Though the Black Bears made contact and got on base with the aid of some Scrappers’ errors, they could not capitalize. A common theme for the contest, a double play from Mahoning Valley ended the inning quickly.
The Black Bears looked to continue their solid fielding in the top of the second. With two outs on the board, things looked promising for West Virginia, but a shot to left field by LF Parker DePasquale drove in a run to give Mahoning Valley the lead.
After starter Eldred was pulled due to injury in the top of the second, reliever Bryce Woody looked to find a little bit of rhythm in an early appearance. He gave up two singles in the top of the third to put a Scrappers runner in scoring position before ending the inning with three consecutive strikeouts.
Mahoning Valley increased its lead in the top of the fourth due to a wild pitch from Woody. Maddux Houghton made play for the third out, stranding a Scrappers runner in scoring position, and ending the inning with the Bears down 2-0.
The top of the fifth inning proved another tough one for the Black Bears defense as Mahoning Valley added to their lead with a two-run home run off the bat of C Alex Crump. The Scrappers threatened with another runner in scoring position after a double to center field, but 3B Jack Elliot made a play on a pop-fly to keep the deficit at four runs.
West Virginia kept the game moving with two quick innings in the sixth and seventh. With reliever Ian McMahon on the mound, the Bears retired six of eight batters to keep the game at 4-0 headed into the home half of the seventh.
The Black Bears finally crossed home plate after the seventh inning stretch. After Scrappers pitcher Jacob Harsany hit two consecutive Black Bears batters, Mahoning Valley brought on reliever Luke Fitton. Another walk loaded the bases and put West Virginia in prime position for its first run of the night. With three runners on and no outs, the fourth straight walk sent 1B Logan Mathieu home. The next at-bat, C Nolan Metcalf grounded out into a double-play but scored LF Adan Fernandez in the process, closing the deficit to two runs heading into the eighth inning.
All thoughts of a rally were immediately extinguished as the Scrappers drove in four more runs in the top of the eighth. A single from DePasquale brought in Tyler Acosta for the first run before a bases-clearing double by RF Ron Washington, Jr. brought home DePasquale, CF Dominick Bucko and 2B Will Prater. The Black Bears managed to end the inning with a ground out to SS Tyler Bosetti before a lightning delay eventually brought the game to a premature end.
The West Virginia Black Bears fall to 41-25 on the season, still holding onto first place in the second half MLB Draft League standings. The Bears hit the road on Tuesday for a three-game series against the Frederick Keys at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium before returning home for their final weekend series of the season on Friday, August 26. First pitch for Tuesday’s game in Frederick is set for 7:00 p.m.