State College Spikes Notebook: 2015 Week 5

As the Cards’ short-season Class-A club continues around the .500 mark, Juan Perez leads the staff.

This report covers the Week of Saturday, July 18 through Friday, July 24.

The State College Spikes are 16-17 after a 3-4 week that included three one-run losses to the Aberdeen IronBirds (BAL). Pitcher Juan Perez had two great games. The first was against the Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) on Saturday – for which he was named the New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week – and on Friday against the Hudson Valley Renegades (TB).

Saturday, July 18: State College Spikes (8), Batavia Muckdogs (0)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1] In their first game of the season against Batavia, the Spikes shut out the Muckdogs in an 8-0 decision.

Offensively, the Spikes were bolstered by their offense. Casey Grayson started a three-run first by collecting an RBI single and Jesse Jenner continued in the fourth with an RBI double. Orlando Olivera – also in the fourth – smashed a three-run homer to left field and continued his multi-hit game streak.

Cole Lankford tied the club record by hitting a trio of doubles, the fifth player to do so in team history. Lankford also collected five RBI, one shy of the team record.

Juan Perez went seven innings for his third win of the season. Perez tied the Spikes single-game strikeout record with 10, and allowed only two hits and two walks. The righty pitcher matched the franchise records set by Will Anderson (June 29, 2014 against Williamsport) and Fernando Baez (September 5, 2014 in a playoff game against Hudson Valley).

Jacob Evans closed the game.

WP: Perez, Juan. (3-1)
LP: Lilek, Brett. (0-2)

Sunday, July 19: State College Spikes (2), Batavia Muckdogs (5)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 6:05 p.m. ET. [Game 2]

Although the Spikes dominated the diamond the night before, in Sunday’s game against the Batavia Muckdogs, the Spikes dropped a 5-2 decision after a big third from the Muckdogs.

Landon Beck started and took the loss. Beck went four innings to yield four runs on seven hits, three walks and four errors, however, he did have two strikeouts before being relieved by Tyler Bray.

Defensively, catcher Jose Godoy had a pair of pickoffs – a runner off second in the opening frame and a runner off first in the second – as well as throwing out two runners who attempted to steal. Offensively, Leobaldo Pina collected another three (or more) hits during the game with a trio of singles and a run scored. This game marked his third straight multi-hit outing.

WP: Farnworth, Steve. (4-0)
LP: Beck, Landon. (1-2)

Monday, July 20: State College Spikes (6), Batavia Muckdogs (5)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 3]

The Spikes won over Batavia with a 6-5 decision in the final game of their home series.

The Spikes gained the lead in the second with a two-run triple from Josh Swirchak (plus an additional run scored by Swirchak to make it three) and a two-run single in the eighth from Cole Lankford. Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Spikes were up 5-5 as Batavia scored three runs at the top of the ninth to tie the game. Then, Leobaldo Pina stepped up to bat in the ninth and delivered a game-winning walk-off single, bringing in Swirchak from third. To set Pina up, Swirchak delivered a single, Thomas Spitz obtained a walk with a final infield single from Michael Pritchard.

Reliever Pedro Echemendia was awarded the win after three innings (and faced the minimum in the first two) before yielding three runs in the ninth on a total of five hits. Echemendia also struck out four.

WP: Echemendia, Pedro. (3-1)
LP: Brewster, L. J. (0-1)

Tuesday, July 21: State College Spikes (0) at Aberdeen IronBirds (1)
Location: Aberdeen –Ripken Stadium: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1]

In the first game of their away series at Aberdeen, the Spikes dropped a 1-0 decision. The lone run came on an eighth inning sac fly from Kirvin Mosquit while starter Ian McKinney went seven scoreless in the effort at Ripken Stadium.

Jery Then was given the loss after pitching the eighth inning and giving up the unearned, run on two hits and a walk. Then struck out two.

The Spikes were held to four hits, though they threatened on multiple occasions. State College left nine men on base – including the bases loaded in the fourth.

WP: Scott, Tanner. (4-0)
LP: Then, Jery. (0-1)

Wednesday, July 22: State College Spikes (1) at Aberdeen IronBirds (2)
Location: Aberdeen – Ripken Stadium: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 2]

While Jorge Rodriguez extended his away-game scoreless streak to 16 innings, Jacob Evans was awarded his first professional loss after the Spikes dropped another one-run game against the IronBirds on Aberdeen’s home turf. Rodriguez went five innings, giving up one hit and two walks while striking out three. Evans allowed two runs in the seventh on three hits with two errors and one walk while striking out two.

Josh Swirchak scored the only Spikes’ run in the second. He singled and scored on a double from R. J. Dennard to give State College the lead until the two runs by Aberdeen in the seventh. Though Swirchak was the only player that scored, Craig Aikin and Mike Pritchard produced a multi-hit game and both players doubled.

The Spikes fell below .500 for the first time in two weeks, with a 15-16 record. Aberdeen passed the Spikes with a 16-15 record in the Division.

WP: Baker, Patrick. (1-0)
LP: Evans, Jacob. (0-1)

Thursday, July 23: State College Spikes (5) at Aberdeen IronBirds (6)
Location: Aberdeen – Ripken Stadium: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 3]

The Spikes suffered their third one-run loss to Aberdeen, but it took the IronBirds 14 innings to score that winning run.

This game fell just one inning and 24 minutes short of the longest game in Spikes history (August 30, 2014 against Batavia at Medlar Field - 15 innings and five hours), making it the second-longest game in Spikes history, though the longest recorded on the road.

Michael Pritchard came through with a two-out, game-tying single in the ninth after a liner to left field from pinch-runner Champ Rowland. Then, after threatening with a bases-loaded effort in the 12th but held off the board, the Spikes committed their fourth – and final – error of the game to give Aberdeen the win at the bottom of the 14th.

Reliever Luke Harrison took the loss after yielding an unearned run and two hits while striking out three. With Kirvin Mosquit on third after two singles, Drew Turbin’s groundball to right was fielded by Josh Swirchak and thrown to Harrison, covering first. However, Harrison’s foot was ruled off the base and the run counted.

WP: Cleavinger, Garrett. (2-0)
LP: Harrison, Luke. (0-1)

Friday, July 24: State College Spikes (2) at Hudson Valley Renegades (0)
Location: Hudson Valley – Dutchess Stadium: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1]

After suffering the sweep at the hands of Aberdeen, the Spikes arrived in Hudson Valley at 4:30 a.m. Friday. That night, they won their first game of the series 2-0.

Pitchers Juan Perez and Landon Beck combined for a seven-hit, 13-strikeout shutout. Perez gave up three hits and two walks while striking out seven over five innings. Perez has a 12-scoreless inning streak with 17 strikeouts.

Due to the 14-inning game the Spikes played the night before, the bullpen was strained and Beck was asked go the rest of the way in a makeshift “piggyback” set up, though he was originally set to start in Saturday’s game. Beck collected six strikeouts while allowing four hits over four innings.

Both runs came in the opening from Michael Pritchard and Thomas Spitz as they hit back-to-back, one-out singles, and then advanced on a groundout. Both runners scored on an error.

WP: Perez, Juan. (4-1)
LP: Yepez, Angel. (2-1)

Who’s Hot

Juan Perez. Perez now has a 4-1 record this season, leading the Spikes to their 8-0 win over the Muckdogs and combining with Landon Beck for 13 strikeouts in Friday’s victory over the Hudson Valley Renegades. Perez has an ERA of 2.27, eighth in the league. On Wednesday, Perez was named the NYPL Pitcher of the Week, after the San Felipe, Venezuela native tied the team’s single-game record of 10 strikeouts against Batavia.

Leobaldo Pina. The Spikes’ shortstop had three straight multi-hit games highlighted by a walk-off single in the ninth inning for the win against the Muckdogs Monday night. In 125 at-bats, Pina (.272) has collected 13 runs on 34 hits with 15 RBI, 22 walks and 22 strikeouts.

Casey Grayson. Casey Grayson is still in the No. 2 spot in the NYPL batting race at .343. Grayson collected three runs on a RBI single for the Spikes against the Muckdogs on Saturday. Grayson has 19 hits, 37 runs, with 18 walks and 25 strikeouts. Grayson has also collected 21 RBI.

Who’s Not

R. J. Dennard. Despite Dennard’s RBI double Wednesday, the first baseman still has the lowest average (.115) of the Spikes’ batters, five weeks into the season. In 52 at-bats, Dennard has had scored four runs on six hits while collecting six RBI, seven walks and 11 strikeouts.


Spikes catcher Brian O’Keefe was promoted to single-A Peoria on Saturday, July 18 and joined his former teammates who are now wearing the Chiefs’ red and white: outfielders Harrison Bader and Kenny Peoples-Walls, as well as pitcher Nick Frey.

“Forget about the averages,” Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez said. “He deserved it.” Joining the Spikes – from rookie-level Johnson City – is catcher Riley Drongesen. The Granite Bay, California native was a non-drafted free agent signed by the St. Louis Cardinals on June 12.

On Sunday, July 19, shortstop Champ Rowland was promoted from the GCL Cardinals to State College. Centerfielder Jhohan Acevedo, who had been called up to the Peoria Chiefs earlier this season, is now back with the Spikes as of Friday, July 24 along with right-handed pitcher Kevin Alexander.


Danny Martin’s previous injury – a groin strain – was aggravated. In order to compensate for straining the front, Martin – according to Rodriguez in a postgame interview on Saturday – relied on the back and brought back the previous strain. Martin may be out for a considerable period.

Olivera is out with plantar fasciitis in his foot, an injury which necessitated Acevedo’s return from Peoria.

Team Stats

Batting     Pitching  
R 139   R 131
H 284   H 280
HR 8   HR 11
RBI 122   SO 233
SO 218   BB 102
BB 115   ER 110
AVG 0.251   ERA 3.21

New York-Penn League Pinckney Division Standings
1. Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) [23-11]
2. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [18-16]
3. State College Spikes (STL) [16-17]
4. Auburn Doubledays (WSH) [15-18]
5. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) [14-19]
6. Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) [10-23]

What is Next

The Spikes will finish the last two games against Hudson Valley, Saturday and Sunday, and then return home for an off-day on Monday. Tuesday through Thursday, the Spikes will face off against Vermont and then stay at home for the next three games against Lowell starting on Friday night.

Follow Stephanie Panny on Twitter @StephaniePanny.

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