Black Bears continue slump with 6-1 loss to Scrappers

GRANVILLE — The West Virginia Black Bears continued a week-long slump, dropping its eighth contest in a row, 6-1, to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Kendrick Family Ballpark on Wednesday evening.

West Virginia’s (9-15) last win came on Saturday, June 22 against Trenton.

“I’ve told the guys we’ve only got nine games left in the first half,” West Virginia manager David Carpenter said. “We’ve got to really focus during these at-bats and know what pitch we can handle and know what pitch we can lay off of.”

The Scrappers got on the board first when third baseman Beau Ankeney hit a towering three-run home run over the left field fence in the top of the second inning to put the visitors up 3-0.

West Virginia got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame when catcher Joey Spence doubled home Ryan Grabosch to make it 3-1.

West Virginia starter Dylan Cheeley did well outside of the home run to Ankeney. Cheeley pitched 4.1 innings, allowing three runs, all on the home run, with five hits, five strikeouts and three walks.

“He pitched his butt off,” Carpenter said. “He got into a little bit of trouble in that one inning — the guy kind of cheated to a fastball — but other than that, he was fantastic. He gave us a chance to stretch the game a little bit, but just came out on the wrong side.”

Cheeley was replaced by reliever Ryan Sleeper, who gave up two runs in the top of the sixth as Moahing Valley increased its lead to 5-1. Flamethrower Victor Quinn then entered in relief and struck out four of the five batters he faced across 1.2 scoreless frames.

The West Virginia bats were cold for the second game in a row against the Scrappers. The Black Bears managed just one hit in a 6-1 loss in game one on Tuesday before registering just 5 hits in Tuesday’s 6-1 defeat.

There are only nine games left in the first half of the Draft League season, before the MLB Draft and the switch to the professional part of the year. Carpenter said the focus for the team is now just to finish out the first half on a good note.

“With nine games left it can be either ‘there’s only nine games I’ve got to be here’ or ‘there’s nine games where I can finish this part of the season strong and see what happens,’” Carpenter said.

West Virginia’s series against Mahoning Valley now flips back to Ohio, where the Scrappers will host the Black Bears for two more games through Friday. West Virginia will stay on the road for a two-day weekend swing at Trenton and then three games at Frederick in the middle of next week.