State College Spikes Notebook: 2013 Week 8

The Cardinals' New York-Penn League affiliate continued its strong play, going 5-1 this week, with five All-Stars leading the way.

State College (30-20) took the show on the road this week after sweeping their last homestand. The Spikes went 5-1 this week, have won 12 of their last 14 and moved within one game of Jamestown for the lead in the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division on Friday.

August 3 vs. Vermont, Win 2-1

The Spikes took their third straight Saturday night walk-off win as Cesar Valera singled in the tenth inning to give State College a 2-1 win over Vermont.

Steven Ramos got the Spikes' going in the tenth with a leadoff double off the bag at third base, then stole third with ease. After Jimmy Bosco was intentionally walked, Valera sent a pitch to right-center field to score Ramos and give the Spikes their second straight walk-off win and fourth walk-off win of the season.

Bosco went 4-for-4 with a double, collecting his second four-hit game of the season and providing half of the eight State College hits on the night.

August 4 vs. Vermont, Win 3-1

The Spikes got on the board first Sunday thanks to a Lake Monsters miscue in the home half of the third. Luke Voit led off the inning with a groundball to Vermont third baseman Ryon Healy, who fired it to Michael Soto at first. But Soto inexplicably missed the chest high throw, and the ball rolled into foul territory, allowing Voit to advance to second. The Spikes catcher came around to score on an RBI infield single from Bosco later in the inning to give State College an early 1-0 lead.

Vermont tied it at 1-1 in the fifth when Spikes' starter Nick Petree allowed the first three Lake Monsters to reach on a walk and two singles. With the bases loaded, Vermont shortstop Luis Baez grounded into a double play as the Spikes traded one run for two outs.

The Missouri State product Petree went five innings for State College, allowing the lone run in the fifth, on four hits, two walks and four strikeouts.

State College added the go-ahead run in the sixth on another throwing error. With Carson Kelly at first, Mason Katz grounded a ball to Baez at short. The Lake Monsters' shortstop gathered the grounder and fired the ball to Soto at first. Baez's throw was low, and it skipped off the heel of Soto's glove, into the first base seats allowing Kelly to score.

The Spikes added an insurance run in the eighth when Katz doubled to left to lead off the inning, and came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Luis Perez to give State College a 3-1 lead.

August 6 at Staten Island, Win 7-3

State College used four home runs to beat Staten Island 7-3 in the first of a three-game series Tuesday night.

Voit got the Spikes started with a solo home run to left in the third to give State College a 1-0 lead.

Spikes' starter Jimmy Reed cruised through the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fifth. Staten Island began the inning with a walk and two singles to tie the game at 1-1. Reed was pulled after the second single with no outs in the inning and runners on second and third.

Jacob Booden came on in relief, and got a groundball from the first batter he faced, but David Washington had trouble fielding the ball allowing the batter to reach, as both runners scored to make it a 3-1 Staten Island lead. Booden buckled down and forced three of the next four batters to pop out to Kelly, keeping the Yankee lead at two.

State College took the lead in the seventh on a three-run dinger from Kelly to put the Spikes up 4-3.

Mitch Harris worked a scoreless seventh for State College and the Spikes came back with three more runs on a solo bomb from Steven Ramos, and a two-run homer from David Washington, to take a 7-3 lead.

The Spikes wouldn't look back as Harris and Jeff Rauh shut out Staten Island over the final two frames to preserve a 7-3 Spikes victory.

August 7 at Staten Island, Win 6-5

The Spikes built a three-run lead heading to the ninth inning, and needed every bit of it to withstand a furious ninth-inning rally from Staten Island.

Brett Wiley hit his first home run for State College, a solo shot in the ninth inning, to extend the margin to three. Staten Island would bounce back and load the bases with one out, then score on a bases-loaded hit by pitch and walk to make it a 6-5 ballgame.

However, Rauh, who let in both runs, recovered to strike out the final two Yankees batters to nail down the save for State College.

State College used a big sixth inning to take the lead back for good. Michael Schulze doubled in a run and Valera knocked in two more with a bases-loaded single as part of a four-run frame.

Jhonny Polanco earned the win in relief with two scoreless innings in support of emergency starter Victor DeLeon. Polanco gave up just one hit while striking out two. DeLeon went four innings in the start after Andrew Pierce was scratched just prior to the game.

Rauh earned the save, his fourth in six opportunities, after making a ninth-inning appearance for the second night in a row.

August 8 at Staten Island, Loss 6-5

David Washington delivered his eighth home run of the season but State College saw its nine-game winning streak come to an end Thursday.

Washington's solo home gave the Spikes a 5-2 lead in the fifth. However, Staten Island responded with a two-run double in the home half of the fifth inning and a two-run single in the sixth to gain the lead for good.

The Spikes had already bounced back from allowing the game's first run to take the lead after the first of Katz's pair of doubles scored a run in the second and Ramos knocked in another run with his third-inning single.

Arturo Reyes took the blown save and the loss despite both runs scoring against him being unearned. Two of four of the runs charged to starter Juan Bautista were also unearned as the Spikes committed four costly errors.

August 9 vs. Tri-City, Win 7-4

A pair of rain delays could not stop the State College Spikes on Friday night as Mitch Harris tossed four shutout innings of relief for the win.

Harris, who made his longest outing as a professional, took over for Kevin Herget in the second inning after the delays knocked Herget out of the contest. The Naval Academy grad struck out two batters and gave up just two hits and a walk.

State College had taken the lead on Alex De Leon's sacrifice fly just prior to the second delay, and then added another run on Ramos's single one batter after play reconvened.

Katz smashed an RBI triple in the fourth, and Wiley added RBI single as well.

Booden earned the save with two scoreless innings to finish the game, giving up three hits and a walk, while striking out two.

The "Late" Mid-Summer Classic

State College is sending five players to the NYPL All-Star Game Tuesday night.

First baseman David Washington and outfielders Steven Ramos and Ronald Castillo were chosen to start the game, while shortstop Cesar Valera and outfielder Jimmy Bosco were selected as reserves for the NL team.

Bosco, batting .287 on the season, is second in the league in triples with six, owns a .797 OPS, and has played stellar defense for State College this season.

Castillo, who is still hampered by a shoulder injury, is not expected to play, but was selected as starter due to his excellent play when healthy. The 6-foot-5 left fielder owns a .342 average in 21 games played with 15 RBI and one home run. Castillo has not played since injuring his shoulder while making a diving catch against Connecticut back on July 21st.

Ramos was an obvious selection as he leads the NYPL in batting with a .364 average, .857 OPS and has stolen twelve bases this season.

Valera, who Marmol says is the best shortstop in the NYPL, has been a true leader for State College this year. The Venezuelan shortstop is batting .276, with 12 doubles, seven stolen bases and 23 RBI. Valera has also been a vacuum at shortstop. I hesitate to say "Wizard" due to the expectations that moniker brings with it in St. Louis, but he has made the most difficult plays look silky smooth. Valera has excellent range, quick hands, a strong arm and, most importantly, a good head on his shoulders.

Washington leads the NYPL with 36 RBI on the season, and is tied for second in the circuit with eight home runs. The lefty slugger has not sacrificed power for average though, as he is batting a solid .277 with a .356 OBP. The big man has struck out 50 times in just 177 at-bats, but his ability to jump on fastballs, combined with an inability to stay back on off-speed pitches is a recipe for high-risk high-reward plate appearances.

Transactions

August 6 - INF Juan Herrera promoted to Single-A Peoria

Injuries

7/22 – Ronald Castillo was placed on the 7-day DL after injuring his left shoulder diving for line drive on July 21st against Connecticut. Castillo has yet to be activated, and will likely be forced to sit out the NYPL All-Star Game due to his injury. Marmol was hoping Catillo would be back in the lineup before the road trip ended this weekend, but that is looking increasingly less likely.

On the Horizon

The Spikes will wrap up their three-game series in Brooklyn with one game Saturday, and one more on Sunday before an off day Monday, and the NYPL All-Star Game Tuesday. Play will resume on Wednesday, with a two-game home set against Mahoning Valley.



Follow Robert Davidson on Twitter at @robo_tweets, and on Flickr at flickr.com/photos/robert_davidson.

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