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PHOTO GALLERY | 7-run 8th inning lifts Mill Rats over Kings in 2024 Prospect League opener

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Playing baseball inside Sargent’s Stadium at the Point has become a family affair for Johnstown Mill Rats infielder Chance Satcho.

Satcho’s father, Rick, was a member of both the Johnstown Steal and the Johnstown Jonnies in 1997 and 1998 as a catcher and infielder, and also met his future wife inside the stadium.

Tuesday’s Prospect League opener gave Chance Satcho his first opportunity to make what he hopes is many memories while wearing a Mill Rats uniform.

With the contest tied at 8-all in the bottom of the eighth, Satcho put Johnstown in front with a two-run double to help spark a seven-run frame and propel the Mill Rats to a 13-8 victory over the Champion City Kings.

“We definitely did a great job with situational hitting,” Satcho said. “Two straight lefties got started off with first-pitch fastballs, so we recognized it right away and took advantage. The atmosphere was electric here tonight. We’re very happy we were able to get the win in front of these fans.”

Trailing 8-6, Johnstown loaded the bases with no outs following a walk to Austin Stalker and back-to-back singles by Landon Meyer and Peyton Starr.

Jack Newman then skied a ball deep into right that was lost in the lights by the Champion City fielder, allowing two runs to score. Satcho’s double put the Mill Rats ahead for good, as Johnstown followed with three more tallies stemming from a fielder’s choice and two errors.

Mill Rats reliever Liam Royster tossed a perfect ninth to earn the win on the mound.

“It was a little ugly, but we got the job done,” said Josh Merrill, who made his managerial debut for the Mill Rats. “We had a lot of guys who were getting their first reps and some who hadn’t played in over a month, so this was big for us.”

“We shrugged off our early rust and were able to get some great at-bats. It’s a tribute to the maturity of our guys and even being productive with our outs to keep the pressure on them and force their defense to make mistakes.”

The Mill Rats have now started three of the team’s four seasons with a victory, including two unblemished wins at home.

Johnstown was held without a hit until Satcho’s single to right field in the bottom of the fourth, as the Kings held a 2-0 advantage.

Meyer and Starr each produced run-scoring doubles to give the Mill Rats their first lead at 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth.

Champion City answered with three runs in the sixth to jump back in front.

The Mill Rats recorded two runs in the bottom half on an error and an RBI knock from Parker Martin before another Kings miscue led to Johnstown grabbing a 6-5 advantage through seven frames.

In total, Champion City committed six errors and four Kings pitchers combined to allow seven walks and three hit batsmen.

“It was a great back-and-forth game up until the eighth inning,” Champion City manager Stephen Larkin said. “We just had some youngsters who made some young mistakes. It’s the first game, so we’re going to clean up the mistakes and the walks and just keep playing hard.”

Five Mill Rats recorded multiple hits. Meyer, Stalker and Colton Ayres each scored twice.

Stalker also reached base five times out of the leadoff spot via four walks and a hit by pitch.

The teams will conclude their two-game series at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.

“We’re excited,” Merrill said. “We’re definitely ready to get back on the field and try to build off of the win. There’s probably going to be a whole new crew coming out because some guys didn’t get to play tonight. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow.”