Although the State College Spikes (36-25) lost their first four games this week while mired in a 1-10 slump, they finished with their best week of the month. With four straight wins, State College seems to be hitting its stride at the right time. The club holds a seven game lead over Jamestown (PIT), and is inching closer to its second straight Pinckney Division Championship.
August 9 at Connecticut (DET), Loss 3-1
Daniel Poncedeleon gave up three runs in the first inning in Connecticut last Saturday. That big inning was all the Tigers needed as the Spikes managed just one run on the night, a Nick Thompson RBI single in the sixth.
Ponecdeleon gave up four straight hits to start the bottom of the first as Connecticut went single, double, double, single to take an early 3-0 lead. But the 6-foot-4 righty settled in, controlled the damage in the first, and allowed just one hit through the next four innings to keep State College within striking distance.
Unfortunately, Poncedeleon took his third loss of the season, as the Spikes scratched out just six hits, three of which came in their run-scoring sixth inning.
Nick Thompson went 2-for-4 and with a double and an RBI single, and was the only Spike with more than one hit in the game.
August 10 at Connecticut, Loss 11-7
Connecticut thwarted a 12-hit outburst from State College as the Tigers knocked around the Spikes’ staff for 11 runs in five innings.
Starter Trey Nielsen surrendered five runs on seven hits and a walk, but left the game with a 5-5 tie in the third. State College put together a four-run third as Luis Cruz, Jhohan Acevedo, Darren Seferina and Robelys Reyes strung together four straight singles to lead off the frame. State College then tied the game in the fourth when Reyes singled home Acevedo, evening the score at 5-5.
Rauh came on in relief of Nielsen and gave up an RBI groundout, but the wheels fell off for him in the fifth. Rauh gave up a double, a home run, a walk and another double before being pulled in favor of Joe Scanio, having given up three runs, soon to be four, without getting an out in the frame. Scanio allowed his inhertited runner to score and gave up a run of his own.
State College added a run in both the seventh and the ninth, but fell ultimately fell short.
August 11 at Connecticut, Loss 2-1 (F/12)
Despite outhitting their opponents eight to seven, and getting 7 1/3 scoreless innings of relief from Brandon Lee, Nick Lomascolo, and Josh Lucas, the Spikes were swept for the second time this month.
Fernando Baez returned to the Spikes’ rotation after missing a few starts with a sore arm and allowed one run on two hits in 3 2/3 innings. The run charged to Baez was a hard luck run for the Spikes though, as Connecticut plated its first run on an infield double. Both Danny Diekroeger and Reyes lost the ball in the lights allowing the games first run to score from second.
The two Spikes infielders would make up for their miscue though, as Reyes walked with two outs in the eighth and was doubled home by Diekroeger to tie the game at 1-1.
After the trio of Spikes relievers kept the Tigers off the board through 11, Tyler Bray was given the ball to start the home half of the 12th. Bray got two outs, but walked two batters in the process and gave way to Kyle Grana with two outs and runners on first and second. The first batter Grana faced ripped a single to center to plate the game-winning run and hand State College its fifth straight loss.
August 12 vs. Mahoning Valley (CLE), Loss 5-0
The Spikes’ losing streak grew to six as Mahoning Valley spoiled the Spikes return to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Will Anderson started for State College and took the loss, just his second of the season, as he allowed four runs, just two earned, on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. Anderson walked one and struck out seven as he continues to be the Spikes’ most reliable arm, even in losses.
Jacob Booden found his form and tossed 2 1/3 shutout innings of relief, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out five. Jeff Rauh gave one run on two hits in one inning.
Seferina and Thompson recorded three hits each while Diekroeger and Reyes were the only two other Spikes with hits.
August 13 vs. Mahoning Valley, Win 5-4
State College broke out of its slump and earned its first win at home in the month of August, thanks in part to a great effort from Alex De Leon. The Kansas product doubled home a run in the first to open the scoring, drove home another with an RBI single in the third, and belted a fifth-inning solo home run, his eighth of the year, to left to cap the Spikes’ scoring for the night.
Starter Dewin Perez allowed three runs over 5 2/3 on eight hits and one walk, but did a good job of escaping trouble when he needed to. The Spikes then got two shutout innings from Lomascolo in relief, before Lee gave up a run in the eighth to make it a one-run ballgame. But Grana earned his fifth save of the season with a hitless ninth.
Collin Radack had three hits and Acevedo went 2-for-4 on the evening.
August 14 vs. Mahoning Valley, Win 8-2
A six-run third inning powered the Spikes to their first series win of the month on Friday. Brett Wiley, Diekroeger, Thompson and Kenny Peoples-Walls all went 2-for-4 on the night as the Spikes pounded out 13 hits, all singles, in their eight-run effort. Thompson drove in three runs, Wiley plated two and De Leon, Acevedo and Brian O’Keefe had an RBI each.
Starter Austin Gomber went three innings. The Florda Atlantic product allowed three hits and four walks, but held the Scrappers scoreless. Scanio allowed one run in three innings of work, Bray yielded one hit and no runs in two and Jeff Rauh was charged with one run on two hits in the ninth.
August 15 at Auburn (WAS), Win 8-1
After being held scoreless through the first seven frames of last night’s ballgame, the Spikes erupted for eight runs in the eighth inning to earn their third straight win.
Poncedeleon threw his best game of the season, allowing one run on two hits and two walks in six innings while striking out three. Unfortunately for Poncedeleon, his longest professional outing couldn’t earn him a win, as the game was tied when he left, but this start could be a momentum builder for him down the stretch.
Lucas tossed two hitless, shutout frames for his first win of the year, and Booden struck out two in a perfect ninth inning.
State College had two walks and six hits in its massive eighth inning, the biggest of which was Chase Raffield’s (4) three-run homer to cap the eight-run frame. Every State College starter had a hit, with Diekroeger, O’Keefe and Acevedo each with two.
At the Plate
Until Wednesday, State College was just 1-10 in the month of August and in the midst of its worst stretch as a Cardinals affiliate. While pitching and defense played a role in some losses, the biggest problem was generating runs. Below is a table of some notable Spikes’ players’ offensive contributions from Friday, August 8 through Wednesday, August 12.
|De Leon, Alex - 1B||4||16||0||0.000|
|O'Keefe, Brian- C||3||11||1||0.091|
|Peoples-Walls, Kenny - OF||2||6||0||0.000|
|Radack, Collin - OF||2||4||0||0.000|
|Raffield, Chase - OF||4||12||0||0.000|
|Wiley, Brett - INF||4||10||0||0.000|
|Reyes, Robelys - SS||5||22||9||0.409|
|Seferina, Darren - 2B||4||20||7||0.350|
|Thompson, Nick - OF||5||16||6||0.375|
While De Leon is the only player on the upper table that I would consider an “everyday starter,” the other five players are all important role players that start anywhere from two to four games a week depending on matchups. When the bottom two-thirds of your lineup is hitting below a .200 clip, it is not easy to score runs, but when they are not even hitting at a .050 clip, it is nearly impossible.
Meanwhile, Reyes, Seferina and Thompson have been carrying the load offensively for State College. But without any production from the bottom of the lineup, they did not have runners on base, and no one behind them could drive them in.
Reyes, Seferina and Thompson continued to hit well throughout the Spikes dreadful start to August, but the emergence of Acevedo’s bat over the final three games was a big plus for the bottom of Marmol’s lineup. The Venezuelan outfielder went 5-for-11 with one RBI and two runs scored in the final three games this week.
Danny Diekroeger also quietly went about his business through State College’s difficult start to the month, as the Stanford product has hit safely in every game since August 1, a 13-game streak. Diekroeger is hitting .366 (15-41) with six RBI in his last ten games.
On the Mound
Josh Lucas has been stellar out of the bullpen since returning to State College. The 6-foot-6 righty has not allowed an earned run in 8 2/3 innings in the month of August. Over that time, Lucas has also walked just one batter while striking out 10.
Nick Lomascolo has found his rhythm again and hasn’t allowed a run since July 27. In that span, Lomascolo has worked 7 2/3 innings, allowed seven hits and three walks and struck out nine.
While Booden, Grana and Rauh have not been the reliable arms lately that they were in the beginning of the year, Lomascolo and Lucas have filled the void and provided Marmol with two go-to-guys for the later innings.
State College had four players selected to the NYPL All-Star Game this year. The Spikes’ middle-infield tandem of Robelys Reyes and Darren Seferina were the only two State College position players selected.
Reyes is hitting .292 with seven doubles, two triples, a pair of long balls, 14 stolen bases and 24 RBI. The Spikes’ shortstop has also struck out just 19 times in 195 at-bats.
Darren Seferina has been an exemplary table-setter for State College, leading off nearly every game that he has played. Seferina is batting .308 with seven doubles, three triples and seven RBI. The Miami Dade product has also swiped 13 bags and been caught just three times.
Will Anderson and Kyle Grana were the two Spikes’ hurlers selected.
Anderson leads the Spikes with five wins and is fourth in the NYPL with a 2.31 ERA. The 21 year-old has walked just nine batters in 58 1/3 innings this year while striking out 50.
Grana has not shown the same dominance lately that he did earlier in the year, but the 6-foot-4 Wildwood, MO native is definitely worthy of the call. Grana owns a 1.23 ERA and has struck out 23 batters in just 14.2 innings.
The 2014 NYPL All-Star Game will take place this Tuesday with a 7:30 p.m. first pitch in Brooklyn, N.Y. The game will be streamed live on MiLB.TV for subscribers.
August 13 – C Adam Ehrlich transferred to Rookie-level Johnson City
On the Horizon
State College will wrap up its current series at Auburn on Sunday before returning to State College on Wednesday, after the All-Star break, for a four-game homestand to take on Williamsport (PHI) and Batavia (MIA).
Follow Robert Davidson on Twitter @robo_tweets.
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