July 6 vs. Batavia, Win 5-2
The Spikes jumped out of the gate early with a four-run first, as Mason Katz got it started with a sac fly to score Jimmy Bosco. Carson Kelly then delivered a two-out two-run double, plating Steven Ramos and Bruce Caldwell. Ronald Castillo brought Kelly around with a single to right to cap the inning for State College.
Castillo, making his return to the lineup after a ten-game absence, delivered a 2-for-3 performance and hit the ball hard all evening.
The Spikes' offense was bolstered by another strong effort on the mound from Chris Perry. Perry earned the win, allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits and a walk over six innings of work. The right-hander also struck out five.
Brady Adamek notched his third save of the season with 1 1/3 shutout innings to preserve the State College victory.
July 7 vs. Mahoning Valley, Win 12-3
The Spikes spotted the Scrappers a 3-0 lead, but exploded in the later innings for the 12-3 victory.
The Spikes tied the game with an RBI double from Cesar Valera, and took the lead for good in the fifth on an RBI triple from Bosco .
Alex De Leon, the Cards' 23rd round pick in 2013, smashed a 1-2 pitch to left field for a two-run shot, earning his first professional home run.
Valera went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and one RBI, notching both a double and a triple. Bosco, Katz and Matt Young put together multi-hit performances as well. David Washington drove in three runs on a 1-for-4 night at the plate.
Second tandem starter Kevin Herget got the win despite allowing all three Scrappers runs in the third. Herget yielded a total of six hits over three innings of work.
Chase Brookshire started the game for State College and tossed two scoreless innings in his professional debut. Brookshire, 20th-round pick in 2013, struck out two and gave up one hit, but faced the minimum.
Mitch Harris and Jacob Booden added two scoreless innings apiece to finish out the game. Harris retired all six batters faced while Booden, making his first appearance for State College, struck out five.
July 8 vs. Mahoning Valley, Win 4-3
Washington got the Spikes going with a two-run bomb to right center field to give State College a 2-0 lead in the first. But Mahoning Valley would not go down quietly. Catcher Ryan Bataglia blasted a three-run homer against Spikes starter Ben O'Shea to give the Scrappers a 3-2 lead in the fourth.
The three-run dinger was all the Scrappers could manage against O'Shea though. O'Shea scattered seven hits over seven innings of work, during which he walked one and struck out three. All three runs were earned.
State College came out of the gates swinging in the home half of the seventh when Young led off with a single, stole second, and then was moved to third by an infield single from Ramos. Ramos was picked off at first, but Bosco picked up his teammate by smacking a single to right field to plate Young for the tying run.
Cesar Valera then poked one through the right side, and the Spikes had runners on the corners again. Bruce Caldwell then grounded a 1-2 pitch through the right side to score Bosco and give the Spikes the lead.
With a one-run lead in the eighth, State College sent Arturo Reyes to the mound in relief. Reyes, making his professional debut, allowed the first two Scrappers of the inning to reach, but composed himself and sat down the next three batters in order.
Clinging to a one-run lead in the ninth, Kyle Webb came on to relieve Reyes, and found himself in a jam of his own. After retiring the first batter, Webb allowed back-to-back singles.
The Scrappers had the tying and go-ahead runs on base, but Webb held his ground, forcing a pop-up to left field for the second out, and ending the game with a strikeout.
July 9 vs. Mahoning Valley, Win 12-5
After putting up 24 hits over the first two games of their series with Mahoning Valley, the Spikes picked up where they left off on Tuesday, hammering the Scrappers for 12 runs on 17 hits.
In their three-game series with the Scrappers, State College put up 41 hits en route to outscoring the Scrappers by a combined score of 28 to 11.
State College trailed 2-1 after the first inning, but came roaring back in the second when Castillo and Luke Voit teed off for back-to-back solo home runs to give the Spikes a 3-2 lead.
State College and Mahoning Valley put up three runs each over the next three innings, as the Spikes carried a 6-5 lead into the seventh. That would be the end of any potential drama in this contest though, as the Spikes plated six runs in the seventh, pushing the score to its 12-5 final.
David Washington led off the seventh inning with a moon shot to the right for a solo home run. Then four of the next five Spikes reached on singles, driving in three more runs. Katz would later hammer a ball to the wall in left-center field for a two-out RBI double.
Willy Paulino, in his first start of the year for State College, gave up two runs, one earned, over four innings of work. Paulino struck out four, allowed five hits, one walk and one hit batter in his time on the mound.
Victor DeLeon relieved Paulino in the fifth, and allowed three earned runs on two hits and two walks in one inning. Jhonny Polanco, Jeff Rauh and Harris combined to shut out the Scrappers over the final four frames.
Bosco, Caldwell, Washington and Castillo each had three hits on the night, while Alex De Leon added two of his own. Every Spikes starter, save Valera, recorded a hit in Tuesday's rout.
July 10 at Aberdeen, Loss 2-1
Coming off an explosive three-game stretch offensively, State College struggled to get anything going offensively Wednesday night in Aberdeen.
Things looked promising in the top of the first when Valera ripped a one out single to center, and promptly stole second. But a strikeout and fly out ended the inning, stranding Valera on second.
The Ironbirds, though, capitalized in the home half of the first, scoring a run on an RBI double from Mike Yastrzemski, after leadoff batter Jared Breen singled and advanced to second on a passed ball.
Aberdeen would strike for another run in the third when Yastrzemski was hit by a pitch from Spikes starter Jimmy Reed with two outs and nobody on base. Yastrzemski stole second, and then scored on an RBI single from Trey Mancini.
In the fifth, State College, down 2-0, and hitless since Valera's single in the first, put some pressure on the Ironbirds for the first time in the contest.
Kelly led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a passed ball, and was moved to third by a single from Voit. With Spikes on the corners, and nobody out, State College traded two outs for one run as Young grounded into a double play, and Trevor Martin grounded out to end the inning.
Both teams went scoreless over the final four frames, and State College's win streak came to an end at four.
Jimmy Reed, the losing pitcher, gave up five hits, two runs, one earned, and struck out three in his four innings of work.
The Spikes got a nice effort from Nick Petree. He kept State College within striking distance by shutting out the Ironbirds, only allowing three hits over four frames. Petree also walked one and struck out five.
July 11 at Aberdeen, Loss 3-1
Steven Ramos collected three hit, but it wasn't enough to make up for the damage done to Spikes starter Andrew Pierce by the Ironbirds offense Thursday.
Pierce got off to an inauspicious start, plunking the first batter he faced, but forced a double play ground ball to get out of the inning.
State College was kept off the board for the first two innings, but Aberdeen got to Pierce in the second when Kris Richards doubled to right with one out, and was driven in by a two-out RBI single from Anthony Vega.
Down 1-0, State College came right back in the top of the third. Matthew Young led off with a single, and moved to second on a passed ball. Ramos, the Spikes next batter and lone bright spot offensively Thursday, sent an RBI double to left, scoring Young, and tying the game at one.
The wheels would fall off for Pierce in the bottom of the third. The Ironbirds strung together three straight singles to start the inning, and took the lead before Pierce could get an out in the frame.
Pierce took the loss on the evening, allowing three earned runs, on six hits, one walk, and one strikeout over 2 2/3 innings of work.
In his second appearance of the season for State College, Jacob Booden relieved Pierce. Booden worked 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just two hits, two walks, and striking out three.
Kyle Webb pitched the seventh and eighth stanzas for State College, and kept the Ironbirds off the board, allowing just one hit.
Despite knocking Ironbirds starter Jorge Rivera out of the game just one out into the third inning, the Spikes' offense struggled mightily against the Ironbirds bullpen. State College amassed seven hits on the evening, but went three-up-three-down in the fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
The Spikes offensive struggles of late have led to the club losing back-to-back games for the first time since they lost two straight home games to Batavia on June 28th and 29th.
July 12 at Aberdeen, Suspended in 3rd due to rain, Spikes trailing 6-1
At the Plate
Alex De Leon was the biggest surprise for State College offensively this week. De Leon entered the Mahoning Valley series hitless in his last six games, but 23rd round pick this year collected six hits, three RBI and hit his first professional home run. De Leon finished his week with a 1-for-3 performance on the 11th in Aberdeen.
De Leon said he has been working with Spikes' hitting coach Ramon "Smokey" Ortiz on getting his front foot down earlier, and the results are obvious. The 6'1" catcher looks significantly more comfortable in the batters box now than he did in June, and hit the ball hard, gap-to-gap, all week.
On the Mound
The Spikes bullpen was stellar once again. Jacob Booden, promoted from Johnson City this past week, had two excellent outings in his first two appearances for State College. Despite Brady Adamek's promotion, the back end of the Spikes bullpen continued to impress as Victor DeLeon, Mitch Harris, Jhonny Polanco and Kyle Webb all pitched shut down innings this week.
DeLeon, Polanco and Webb made hitters look foolish at times. DeLeon and Polanco used their mid to upper 90's fastballs to set batters up for knee buckling breaking balls, while Webb's side arm delivery and sweeping curve have given right-handed hitters all they can handle.
DeLeon and Polanco (DeLeon moreso), are showing potential as late inning, shut-down relievers. DeLeon's fastball has consistently been in the mid to upper nineties. His curve, which he been able to throw for strikes consistently, has good depth.
Polanco's velocity is a bit of a quandary. His first pitch in State College this year was a 97 mph fastball, but his velocity has varied greatly from night to night. Some nights he is sitting in the mid nineties, while other nights he is sitting around 90-92. The biggest plus for Polanco though, is that even on nights when he isn't throwing his hardest, he is still just as effective as when he is lighting up the gun. Polanco has good mix of off-speed pitches that he will throw in any count.
Meanwhile, Harris has quietly gone about his business. Although the right-hander is not lighting up the radar gun, his velocity has increased throughout the year, and he has yet to allow an earned run. Harris has shown that he is not afraid to throw any of his pitches in any count, and does a great job of setting up hitters. He is not a guy who is going to get up there and just throw the ball. Harris clearly has a plan when he is on the mound, and he has executed well because of it.
State College's lineup was all over the place this week. The return of Ronald Castillo prompted some serious lineup adjustments from Spikes Manager Oliver Marmol.
Castillo was in and out of the lineup, but batted seventh and played left field when he played.
Steven Ramos, who hit well in Castillo's absence, has been patrolling a mix of center and left field along with Jimmy Bosco as they shuffled around to accommodate Castillo's return.
Washington played another game in right field this week, and looked much more comfortable. Alex De Leon, who primarily played first this past season at Kansas, filled in for Washington at first and looked very comfortable.
Matthew Young was given a few days off this week, as his bat has consistently been the weak spot in this otherwise potent lineup.
Carson Kelly and Cesar Valera have third base and shortstop locked down respectively, but Bruce Caldwell and Mason Katz shuffled around between second base and DH all week.
7/6 – C Adam Lewis promoted to Palm Beach
7/6 – OF Brian Vigo transferred to Johnson City
7/6 – RHP Jacob Booden received from Johnson City
7/6 – RHP Arturo Reyes activated from seven-day DL
7/7 – RHP Brady Adamek promoted to Peoria
7/8 – RHP Chris Perry promoted to Peoria
7/9 – C Dante Rosenberg signed with Cardinals, assigned to State College
On the Horizon
The Spikes begin a three-game series in Hudson Valley Saturday, then head back home to State College to take on the Lowell Spinners and Connecticut Tigers.
Follow Robert Davidson on Twitter at @robo_tweets, and on Flickr at flickr.com/photos/robert_davidson.
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