State College Spikes Notebook: 2015 Week 8

After a perfect 7-0 week, the Spikes are leading the Wild Card race. Orlando Olivera has been hot at the plate.

The State College Spikes have won their past seven games in their push for the playoffs. They increased their record from 22-24 to 29-24 and winning percentage from below .500 to .547 within the week.

Spikes’ manager Johnny Rodriguez said that the team is showing fearlessness and coming together at the right time.

“It ain’t gonna get easy,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a foot race and a dog fight, and whoever is going to win is going to show no fear.”

Saturday, August 8: State College Spikes (2) at West Virginia Black Bears (1) (10 innings)
Location: Granville – Monongalia County Ballpark: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 3]

For the second time in three nights, the Spikes went into extra innings – but this time they defeated West Virginia, in a 2-1 decision.

Thomas Spitz got the winning hit – a double with no outs – that brought in Champ Rowland. The team trailed 1-0 in the fifth when Rowland hit a groundout to let teammate Jhohan Acevedo score the tying run.

Jery Then earned his first win of the season after yielding two hits with three strikeouts in two innings. Jacob Evans – the starter – went four and allowed only one unearned run on four hits while striking out two. Luke Harrison went the next three, allowing two hits and a walk and fanned four. Finally, Pedro Echemendia came in for the save in the tenth, allowing one hit with two strikeouts.

WP: Then, Jery. (1-2) [5.09]
LP: Hibbing, Nick. (1-1) [1.73]

Sunday, August 9: State College Spikes (4) versus Mahoning Valley Scrappers (1)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 6:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1]

Though the Scrappers crossed home plate in the first inning – which could have foreshadowed a loss – a combined defensive/offensive effort by the Spikes held Mahoning Valley (CLE) to one run, resulting in a 4-1 win on Sunday night at home.

After a scoreless bottom of the first and top of the second, the Spikes responded to Mahoning Valley’s run by scoring three of their own in rapid succession. Catcher Jesse Jenner led the scoring, first reaching base on a single and then running home on a Cole Lankford RBI double. Lankford then scored on a RBI double from Jhohan Acevedo, who came home after Scrappers’ first baseman Nate Winfrey made a fielding error that allowed designated hitter R. J. Dennard to reach first (not counted as an RBI).

Spikes’ starter Jorge Rodriguez recovered from a shaky outing last time out to allow only one run on five hits, one walk and a hit batter while striking out three over six innings. Max Almonte, who is recovering from bicep tendinitis, yielded two runs and a walk over 1 1/3 innings while Kevin Alexander earned his second save on five outs and allowed just two hits while striking out one.

WP: Rodriguez, Jorge. (4-2) [2.49]
LP: Lovegrove, Kieran. (1-4) [5.79]

Monday, August 10: State College Spikes (5) versus Mahoning Valley Scrappers (3)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 2]

With a four-run fourth, State College stayed ahead to earn the 5-3 win against Mahoning Valley (CLE).

Ronnierd Garcia broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the fourth before Michael Pritchard brought in two runs on a double. The Spikes loaded the bases twice in the frame. Pritchard was the only Spikes’ player with multiple hits – and a stolen base – during the game.

Dailyn Martinez earned his third win of the season, putting in six innings of work while yielding three runs on nine hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Relievers Tyler Bray and Pedro Echemendia held the Scrappers’ bats at bay – Bray retired six straight (two via strikeout) while Echemendia posted three groundouts in a perfect ninth for the save.

WP: Martinez, Dailyn. (3-3) [3.94]
LP: Linares, Leandro. (0-5) [5.92]

Tuesday, August 11: State College Spikes (7) versus Mahoning Valley Scrappers (5)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 3]

The Spikes completed a three-game sweep of Mahoning Valley (CLE) with their Tuesday night, 7-5 win.

The Spikes let go of a four-run lead in the fifth, allowing the Scrappers to tie the game 5-5. However, Orlando Olivera’s two-out, two-run single in the seventh sealed the win for the Spikes.

Starter Juan Perez allowed five runs on five hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings while striking out three. Over 2 1/3 innings, reliever Kender Villegas yielded only two hits and recording three strikeouts to earn the win. Jery Then allowed only one hit while posting one strikeout for his first save.

WP: Villegas, Kender. (1-2) [4.67]
LP: Carter, Jordan. (1-2) [6.75]

Wednesday, August 12: State College Spikes (7) at Brooklyn Cyclones (6)
Location: Coney Island – MCU Park: 7:00 p.m. ET. [Game 1]

Orlando Olivera hit his fourth homer of the season to aid the Spikes’ 7-6 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM). As a result, State College extended its win-streak to 5 with a 27-24 record and leads the New York-Penn League Wild Card standings.

The homer – a solo to left on the first pitch of the second – was Olivera’s third in seven games.

After oscillating back and forth between gaining and tying/losing the lead, State College got – and maintained – the lead in the sixth, starting with Ronnierd Garcia’s bases-loaded double.

Starter Landon Beck earned the win after fighting through an early rough patch. He allowed four runs on five hits and two walks over five innings. Reliever Luke Harrison tossed two scoreless while Kevin Alexander gave up two runs in 1 1/3 and Pedro Echemendia picked up the save.

WP: Beck, Landon. (2-3) [3.26]
LP: Badamo, Tyler. (2-6) [3.75]

Thursday, August 13: State College Spikes (2) at Brooklyn Cyclones (0)
Location: Coney Island – MCU Park: 7:00 p.m. ET. [Game 2]

The Spikes maintained their half-game lead over the Lowell Spinners (BOS) in the NYPL wild-card standings while increasing their win-streak to six with a 2-0 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM).

Multiple hits were produced from Ronnierd Garcia, Thomas Spitz and Craig Aikin with runs scored by Orlando Olivera and Ronnierd Garcia in the first and seventh respectively.

Carson Cross earned his first win as a starter, allowing six hits while striking out five over six. Max Almonte came in for a perfect seventh and was relieved by Tyler Bray who, over two innings, struck out two.

WP: Cross, Carson. (2-2) [2.70]
LP: Canelon, Kevin. (4-4) [3.98]

Friday, August 14: State College Spikes (9) at Brooklyn Cyclones (0)
Location: Coney Island – MCU Park: 7:00 p.m. ET. [Game 3]

The Spikes shut down the Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM) for the series sweep and a record of 29-24. For the wild card, the Spikes are still half a game ahead of Lowell (BOS), with the next closest team three games behind.

Jacob Evans went for a career-long six innings, allowing just two hits with five strikeouts and retiring 10 straight at one point. Relievers Steven De La Cruz and Kender Villegas combined for two hits, a walk and four strikeouts over three.

Cole Lankford brought in a total of three runs while Jose Godoy drew three of the 11 walks issued by Brooklyn pitchers. Thomas Spitz contributed a pair of hits.

WP: Evans, Jacob. (2-1) [0.87]
LP: Villasmil, Edioglis. (0-1) [1.93]

Who’s Hot

Orlando Olivera. In 21 games with the Spikes, the 2015 38th-round draft pick from Missouri Baptist is leading the Spikes in batting average with a .352 – surpassing teammate Casey Grayson for the top spot. He has had 11 runs on 25 hits, four home runs – three of which have been in the last seven games (this week, a solo to left against Brooklyn) – with five walks and 14 strikeouts. Olivera has also collected 17 RBI. This past week, the night before the homer against Brooklyn, Olivera had a four-RBI game and has been building on that.

Ronnierd Garcia. Garcia has been integrated back into the lineup after being out with an injury, and is second to Olivera in batting average on the team with .328. In 21 games, Garcia has collected eight runs on 22 hits with 12 RBI, five walks and 12 strikeouts and one home run (early in the season). This week, Garcia is working on a five-game hitting streak.

Jacob Evans. Evans has the third lowest ERA – 0.87 – on the team behind Steven De La Cruz and Luke Harrison. Evans earned a win in his first professional start, going six innings allowing two hits with five strikeouts and retiring 10 straight against Brooklyn. Evans, in his 12 games and 31 innings pitched, has allowed four runs on 21 hits, three errors, four walks and 22 strikeouts.

Who’s Not

Casey Grayson. Once leading the league in batting, the first baseman is hitting just .200 with one RBI in his last 10 games. Grayson still has an average of .314 for the season.

Champ Rowland. The infielder began his Spikes career going 0-for-20. After singling in his last three games, the 23-year-old rookie has increased his State College average to .097.

R.J. Dennard. The first baseman’s 2-for-10 week with two RBI actually raised the 39th-rounder’s season average to .147.

Josh Swirchak. The second baseman endured a 2-for-14 skid at the plate last week, though he also drew three walks. Swirchak’s line for the season is .225/.291/.302/.593 in 129 at-bats over 38 games.


Relief pitcher Jery Then was promoted from the Spikes to single-A Peoria on Friday, August 14. Second baseman Michael Massi was brought down to State College from Peoria on Wednesday, August 13. Reliever Steven De La Cruz was promoted to State College from rookie-level Johnson City that same day.


Ronnierd Garcia is back in the lineup after a groin injury kept him out for a month. Orlando Olivera is also back in the lineup after recovering from a foot injury. Max Almonte is slowly being integrated into pitching while recovering from bicep tendonitis.

Team Stats

Hitting     Pitching  
R 253   R 198
H 464   H 452
HR 13   HR 13
RBI 210   SO 389
SO 350   BB 154
BB 194   ER 169
AVG 0.256   ERA 3.22

New York-Penn League Pinckney Division Standings

1. Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) [35-19]
2. State College Spikes (STL) [29-24]
3. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [26-28]
4. Auburn Doubledays (WSH) [24-27]
5. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) [23-29]
6. Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) [22-30]

Wildcard Standings

1. State College Spikes (STL)
2. Lowell Spinners (BOS) [0.5]
3. Aberdeen IronBirds (BAL) [3.0]
4. Connecticut Tigers (DET) [3.0]
5. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [3.5]
6. Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM) [4.0]

New York-Penn League All-Star Game

Five Spikes – one outfielder, two infielders and two pitchers – were selected to play in the NYPL All-Star Game at the Aberdeen IronBirds’ home field, Ripken Stadium, in Maryland on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Players include left fielder Michael Pritchard, first baseman Casey Grayson, shortstop Leobaldo Pina, as well as right-handed pitchers Juan Perez and Landon Beck.

The quintet will join players from Aberdeen, Brooklyn, Mahoning Valley, Staten Island, West Virginia and Williamsport on the South team, while players from Auburn, Batavia, Connecticut, Hudson Valley, Lowell, Tri-City and Vermont will form the North team. Williamsport, in addition to leading the NYPL with a 35-19 record, also leads in All-Star Game selections with nine.

The Midsummer Classic, which has only been hosted at Aberdeen (BAL) one other time (2006 – the year the Spikes joined the league), will take place at Leidos Field within Ripken Stadium.

What is Next

The Spikes will finish up their two-game series at home against West Virginia (PIT) on Sunday.

Monday is an off-day, with the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

State College will face the Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) for a two-game series Wednesday and Thursday. The team will hit the road again to Batavia for a Friday through Sunday three-game series.

Follow Stephanie Panny on Twitter @StephaniePanny.

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