July 20 vs. Connecticut, Win 8-5
The Spikes and Tigers were tied at four through eight innings of play, but that's when the fun began last Saturday in State College.
Locked in a 4-4 tie heading into the ninth, Mike Aldrete, making his first appearance with State College, gave up a go-ahead RBI single to Ben Verlander to give Connecticut a 5-4 lead heading into the home half of the ninth.
Jimmy Bosco led off the ninth with a ground ball single up the middle, then moved to second when a Cesar Valera sacrifice bunt was misplayed by the Tigers, and Valera reached on the error. Bruce Caldwell sacrificed Bosco and Valera to third and second respectively, and Ronald Castillo was intentionally walked to bring up David Washington with the bases loaded.
Washington jumped on a 1-0 and crushed it over the fence in right-center for a walk-off grand slam. Washington had five RBI on the night as he carried State College offensively.
July 21 vs. Connecticut, Loss 2-5
Carson Kelly picked up three hits for the third time in four games Sunday, but three solo homers and a Ben Verlander double made this rain suspended game a difficult one to swallow for State College.
The game, which was stopped on Sunday due to heavy rain and thunderstorms in the middle of the fifth inning, with Connecticut up 2-1, resumed with State College batting in the bottom of the fourth.
Connecticut added to their lead with a solo home run by Brett Harrison in the seventh, and Verlander's double in the eighth plated two more.
Kelly collected a trio of hits, including an RBI double to bring in the Spikes' first run in the fourth inning on Sunday. Matthew Young also added an RBI double in the seventh.
July 22 vs. Connecticut, Win 4-2 (5)
The State College Spikes used four consecutive hits in the fifth to take the lead before rain moved in and ended Monday's game early, with the Spikes ahead 4-2.
Washington also went 2-for-3, with an RBI single in the fifth that gave State College a 3-2 lead. The game was then halted immediately following an RBI single from Kelly that pushed the Spikes lead to 4-2.
Kelly had another big game for the Spikes, going 2-for-3 with two runs batted. Caldwell also notched a pair of hits before Mason Katz pinch-hit for him in the fifth and added another single.
Willy Paulino earned the win for State College with a rare five-inning complete game. Paulino allowed two runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out six. It was the Spikes' first complete game since 2007, which was also a rain-shortened affair.
July 24 at Mahoning Valley, Loss 1-2 (8)
Paul Hendrix drew a bases-loaded walk from Victor DeLeon in the bottom of the eighth inning to seal State College's fate Wednesday.
State College was held to just two hits in the game. Bosco's RBI single in the fifth inning was the Spikes' first hit, and gave State College a 1-0 lead. Washington also added a single in the sixth.
DeLeon allowed a run on a hit and walked three total over 1 1/3 innings. Spikes starter Jimmy Reed went a career-long six innings in the no-decision, fanning three while yielding a run on seven hits and a walk.
July 24 at Mahoning Valley, Loss 0-1 (8)
The second game on Wednesday was a pitchers' duel, with State College getting exceptional efforts from Nick Petree and Andrew Pierce. Petree struck out five in three shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk while retiring the last seven batters he faced.
Pierce recorded seven strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings, the most for any Spikes pitcher in a single outing this season. The right-hander was tagged with the Scrappers' only run on a total of four hits and a walk.
Mahoning Valley plated the winning run on a bases loaded sac fly in the eighth.
July 25 at Mahoning Valley, Loss 1-3
Bosco notched his 12th multi-hit game of the year, but Juan Herrera's two-run homer proved to be the difference Thursday.
Bosco contributed two of the six Spikes hits, while David Washington added a ground-rule double and scored the only State College run in the seventh inning.
The Spikes were behind early, however, as a Scrappers' sacrifice fly to right in the second scored the game's first run. Herrera then homered to the right-field bullpen in the third inning to put Mahoning Valley ahead 3-0.
Spikes' recent call-up from Johnson City, Luis Perez, brought in Washington with a two-out single in the seventh to trim the lead, but the Spikes would get no closer.
Juan Bautista took the loss for State College after allowing all three Scrappers runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks. Bautista also struck out four batters over his five innings of work.
July 26 vs. Auburn, Win 4-1
Kelly put the final nail in the coffin Friday with a bases-loaded, two-run single to plate the last two runs of the Spikes' big third inning. The 2012 second-round pick also notched his fourth three-hit game in the last eight days.
Bosco plated the first State College run with an RBI triple to the gap in right-center field and Valera added an RBI single of his own as part of a multi-hit performance.
State College also got a terrific effort from the pitching tandem of Kevin Herget and Chase Brookshire. Herget started and went a career-long five shutout innings. The right-hander gave up five hits and a walk while striking out four. Brookshire followed Herget and also made his longest professional outing, earning an unconventional four inning save. The southpaw yielded a run on four hits and recorded two strikeouts.
At the Plate
The Spikes were uncharacteristically bad on offense this week. State College combined for just 19 hits in their four losses this week, averaging fewer than five hits per game in those losses. The absence of Ronald Castillo has likely impacted the Spikes potency offensively, but that doesn't speak for how horrendous this team has been on the road lately.
One of the most interesting figures clouding over this club's success is their staggering home and away splits.
Spikes Manager Oliver Marmol said the club has just looked out of sorts, and has run into good pitching lately, but these numbers, over 18 road games this year, become more and more concerning with each passing road trip.
|Home AVG||Away AVG||Difference|
|Alex De Leon||0.282||0.143||0.139|
|TEAM (As of 7/25)||0.322||0.238||0.084|
State College has lost eight consecutive road games, and, on Friday, was in danger of falling below .500 for the first time since losing their season opener to Williamsport. The Spikes are a solid 12-6 in State College, but are just 7-12 on the road thus far.
On the Mound
Despite the lack of offense, the State College pitching staff had a tremendous week, allowing just 19 runs over 57 innings, good for a staff ERA of 3.00 over the seven game span. The Spikes saw quality outings from Bautista, Petree and Pierce in tough losses, as well as bounce-back performances from Brookshire, Herget and Paulino.
Mitch Harris worked another two shutout frames out of the bullpen and is sitting on a 0.59 era this season and opposing hitters are batting just .143 against the big righty.
You have to give credit to the pitching staff, especially State College's starters, as they have really stepped it up since the promotions of Ben O'Shea and Chris Perry. State College began the season with a lot of question marks on the mound, but now leads the New York-Penn League in team ERA at 2.54.
With the absence of Ronald Castillo, and the promotion of Luis Perez, Marmol has juggled this lineup around a tad, but has kept a structure similar to what we've seen most of this year.
Bosco – CF/RF
Valera – SS
Caldwell – 2B/DH
Washington – 1B
Kelly – 3B
Katz – 2B/DH
De Leon / Voit – C
Perez / Young – LF/RF
Ramos – CF/LF
Ramos has come back to earth a little bit offensively this week, and has, more or less, solidified himself as Marmol's "second lead off batter" in the nine-hole to turn the lineup over.
7/22 – OF Ronald Castillo placed on 7-day DL, OF Luis Perez received from Johnson City
7/20 – INF Trevor Martin promoted to Peoria, RHP Mike Aldrete received from Peoria
On the Horizon
State College will close out its quick two-game home stand with Auburn on Saturday, before hitting the road for two against Batavia. The Spikes will then return home to take on Tri-City and Vermont over a six-game home stand beginning Tuesday.
Follow Robert Davidson on Twitter at @robo_tweets, and on Flickr at flickr.com/photos/robert_davidson.
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