GRANVILLE, W.Va – As the MLB Draft nears on Sunday, the West Virginia Black Bears opened the final series of the season’s first half with Mahoning Valley on Thursday night.
The Scrappers struck first in the first, getting two off of Max Alba with one run scoring on a wild pitch and another crossing on an infield single.
The Black Bears got one back in the bottom of the inning with Blaze Brothers coming in on a wild pitch as well.
From there, it settled into a pitcher’s duel, spearheaded by West Virginia’s Max Alba.
After allowing those two runs, he fired three shutout innings with four strikeouts to keep Mahoning Valley off the board with Ricky Mineo doing the same to Bears hitters, striking out six over his four frames.
West Virginia finally got the big blow when the Scrappers went to the bullpen.
Blaze Brothers was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the fifth and in the very next at-bat, Ryan Hernandez clubbed a towering home run into the Mahoning Valley bullpen to give the home team a lead it would never relinquish.
The Bears bullpen did what it has all season after that with Rhian Mann, Ryan Velazquez and Trey Braithwaite combining for five scoreless innings and eight strikeouts.
Mann picked up his fourth win of the season with two innings of one hit baseball while Braithwaite K’ed a pair in the ninth en route to his fifth save of the season as the Black Bears took the opener, 3-2.