The State College Spikes (48-28) finished the regular season with a three-game winning streak to clinch home field advantage in the first round of the New York-Penn League Playoffs. They went on to win both home games to beat Hudson Valley, two games to one, and advance to the NYPL Championship Series for the second straight season.
August 30 vs. Batavia (MIA), Win 12-11 (F/15)
State College and Batavia traded punches for nine innings, before the Spikes sent a pair of position players to the mound in the 15th inning of a 9-9 game.
Jake Stone gave up four straight singles, and two runs, before getting an out in the frame. But the Spikes’ first baseman forced two fly outs, and gave way to Kenny Peoples-Walls who got the final out in the frame.
In the bottom of the 15th, Chase Raffield, Peoples-Walls and Luis Cruz all singled to load the bases with one out. Brett Wiley’s two-RBI single scored Raffield and Peoples-Walls to tie the game, then Collin Radack singled home Cruz to bring the marathon contest to an end.
Alex De Leon, Radack and Wiley each had three hits on the night while Raffield and Robelys Reyes had a pair of hits eiach. Wiley went 3-for-8 with four RBI.
August 31 at Williamsport (PHI), Win 5-1
Trey Nielsen gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the first, but shut out the Crosscutters over the next four frames before turning the ball over to the bullpen.
Tyler Dunnington allowed just two hits over three scoreless innings in his first appearance in State College, then gave way to Kevin Alexander, also making his first appearance for the Spikes, who struck out the side in a perfect ninth.
The Spikes were held to just five hits through four innings by the Crosscutters starter, but took advantage of the Cutters’ bullpen. Cruz tied the game with an RBI single in the sixth, Danny Diekroeger doubled home a run in the seventh to take the lead, and Luis Cruz blasted a three-run home run in the eighth to give the Spikes a trio of insurance runs. De Leon and Cruz each had three hits and Brett Wiley went 2-for-5 with two doubles.
September 1 at Williamsport, Win 6-0
With first round home-field advantage on the line, State College made no mistake Monday against Williamsport, shutting out the Crosscutters 6-0.
The Spikes plated two runs in the top of the first, then Austin Gomber took the mound in the bottom half, and State College never looked back. Gomber worked seven shutout innings, and allowed just five hits while striking out four. Dylan Hawkins threw a shutout eighth inning in his first appearance with the Spikes, and Joe Scanio worked a scoreless ninth.
NYPL Playoffs: September 3 at Hudson Valley (TB) Game 1, Loss 3-0
One bad inning doomed the Spikes in the first game of the NYPL playoffs as the Renegades plated three runs in the fifth on two hits, an error and a wild pitch.
Daniel Poncedeleon kept Hudson Valley off the board through the first four innings, but was done in by some shaky defense and timely hitting in his final inning. Lee and Scanio kept State College in the game by holding the Renegades scoreless in the final three frames, but the Spikes managed just six hits in the game, and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
No State College batter had more than one hit as the Spikes struck out 10 times in the game.
September 4 vs. Hudson Valley Game 2, Win 3-0
The Spikes rebounded with a 3-0 win of their own to tie the series at 1-1 on Thursday night.
State College took a 1-0 lead in the first when Darren Seferina singled, went from first to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Nick Thompson’s groundout to first. Reyes then tripled in the second, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Jhohan Acevedo to double the Spikes’ lead. State College added to its 2-0 lead in the sixth when Nick Thompson singled and later scored on a Hudson Valley fielding error to make it a 3-0 ballgame.
Will Anderson started for State College and worked 7 1/3 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out four, before turning it over to Josh Lucas for the final five outs. Lucas struck out three and allowed just one hit.
September 5 vs. Hudson Valley Game 3, Win 2-1
Hudson Valley took a 1-0 lead before State College could get an out in the deciding third game between the Renegades and Spikes on Saturday night, but the Spikes’ two-run eighth inning propelled them to the NYPL finals for the second straight season.
Fernando Baez started and gave up a leadoff single, a wild pitch, and botched a pickoff attempt to second, allowing Hudson Valley to take an early 1-0 lead. He then settled in, and shut out the Renegades over the next 4 1/3 innings while striking out 10. Baez allowed just two more hits after the first inning and let his bullpen take it the rest of the way. Lucas retired the final two outs in the sixth inning and worked a scoreless seventh before giving way to Nick Lomascolo, who tossed a scoreless eighth.
In the home half of the eighth inning, the State College offense finally broke through. Seferina and Diekroeger singled to lead off, then Thompson put the Spikes on the board, plating Seferina with an RBI single. Thompson later scored on Reyes’ RBI groundout to give State College a 2-1 lead heading to the ninth.
Manager Oliver Marmol turned to his All-Star reliever, Kyle Grana, who struck out two in a perfect ninth to send the Spikes to their second straight NYPL Championship Series.
At the Plate
Robelys Reyes was 3-for-10 with a walk in first-round action against Hudson Valley. The Spikes’ shortstop scored a run and drove in the series-clinching run on Friday.
Nick Thompson had a great regular season and came up big in the first round of the playoffs as well, going 4-for-11 with two runs scored and two more driven in. Thompson drove in the tying-run and scored the winning run in game three to help State College advance to the NYPL Championship Series.
On the Mound
State College received great starting pitching in the first round against Hudson Valley. Will Anderson, Daniel Poncedeleon and Fernando Baez combined to pitch 17 1/3 innings, allow 13 hits, just one earned run and three walks while striking out 20.
Anderson has been a rock for State College all season, but Poncedeleon turned in one of his better outings, and kept State College in the game, despite taking the loss in game one, and Baez struck out a season-high 10 batters, and walked just one, in one of his best starts of the year to help State College to a 2-1 win in game three.
August 31 - RHP Kevin Alexander, RHP Tyler Dunnington and LHP Dylan Hawkins received from Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Cardinals
August 30 - INF Edmundo Sosa received from Rookie-level GCL Cardinals
On the Horizon
State College will meet Tri-City in the NYPL Championship Series, a rematch of last year’s title matchup. In 2013, the Spikes won the first game on the road, but lost both games at home as the ValleyCats took the title. The Spikes will look to return the favor as Tri-City will again have home field advantage this season. State College will host game one on Sunday, then head to Tri-City for game two on Monday, and game three, if necessary, on Tuesday.
Follow Robert Davidson on Twitter @robo_tweets.
© 2014 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.