The State College Spikes (34-31, 3-4) lost their New York-Penn League Wild Card lead to the West Virginia Black Bears after a three-game home series loss to Williamsport and a single-game loss to Auburn this week. Casey Grayson has risen in the NYPL batting ranks to third after a slump, collecting his first home run of the season against Williamsport and Pedro Echemendia is racking up the saves.
Saturday, August 22: State College Spikes (5) at Batavia Muckdogs (3)
Location: Batavia – Dwyer Stadium: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1]
The Spikes, after being caught in a 3-2 deficit, rallied to surpass the Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) for the 5-3 win on Saturday night at Dwyer Stadium. The win kept the Spikes 1 1/2 games ahead of West Virginia in the New York-Penn League wild card standings and was the first time this season that State College came back for the win after the eighth. The game was also the longest nine innings of the season for the Spikes at three hours and 23 minutes.
The score was tied three times, but the Spikes took advantage of the wildness from Batavia pitcher Jordan Hillyer to draw a game-winning hit from Jose Godoy in the ninth after a hit batsman and three walks (one intentional). Earlier in the inning, Orlando Olivera collected the last walk with bases loaded that tied the game 3-3.
Starter Juan Perez was forced to exit the mound after four innings due to the 87 pitches he threw – 58 strikes – after giving up two runs (one earned) on eight hits and collecting four strikeouts. Reliever Stephen De La Cruz earned the win, yielding three hits and a walk while striking out two over 2 1/3 scoreless while Pedro Echemendia picked up the save by recording the last two outs – one via strikeout.
WP: De La Cruz, Stephen. (1-0) [0.00]
LP: Hillyer, Jordan. (1-3) [1.96]
SV: Echemendia, Pedro. (9)
Sunday, August 23: State College Spikes (8) at Batavia Muckdogs (2)
Location: Batavia – Dwyer Stadium: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 2]
First baseman Casey Grayson,produced three hits – including a triple – to help the Spikes solidify the win (8-2) against the Muckdogs at Dwyer Stadium on Sunday night. The win kept the Spikes ahead in the wild card standings by 1 1/2 games.
Grayson, who reached base four times including a walk, collected an RBI single in the first. A sac fly from Ronnierd Garcia in the second, an RBI single from Josh Swirchak in the fifth and a pair of doubles – one of which driving in the Spikes’ last two runs in the eighth – from Jose Godoy kept the Spikes ahead.
WP: Cross, Carson. (3-2) [2.75]
LP: Holloway, Jordan. (3-6) [3.50]
SV: Villegas, Kender. (2)
Monday, August 24: Williamsport Crosscutters (4) versus State College Spikes (1)
Location: Williamsport – Susquehanna Bank Park at Historic Bowman Field: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1]
A big first allowed the Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) to get ahead and maintain their lead over State College for the 4-1 decision. Though they lost, the Spikes still maintained their lead in the wild card standings.
State College’s lone run was knocked in by a single from Ronnierd Garcia in the fifth inning. Craig Aikin went 2-for-4, the only Spikes player to produce multiple hits.
Starter Josh Wirsu took the loss, yielding one run (a Jose Pujols homer to left field) on three hits and two walks while striking out three over five innings of work.
WP: Leftwich, Luke. (2-1) [3.03]
LP: Wirsu, Josh. (0-1) [3.60]
Tuesday, August 25: Williamsport Crosscutters (2) versus State College Spikes (1)
Location: Williamsport – Susquehanna Bank Park at Historic Bowman Field: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 2]
Casey Grayson, Jhohan Acevedo and Orlando Olivera each produced a multi-hit night for the Spikes, though it wasn’t enough to compensate for a two-run homer from Jose Pujols to earn the Crosscutters their second win of the series. The West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) closed the Wild Card gap to only 1/2 a game behind State College.
Grayson posted two hits, including a double in the opening frame that knocked in Acevedo for the Spikes’ only run. Starter Jacob Evans, despite going a career-long seven innings and yielding two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five.
WP: Gilbert, Tyler. (4-3) [2.79]
LP: Evans, Jacob. (3-2) [1.05]
Wednesday, August 26: Williamsport Crosscutters (8) versus State College Spikes (4)
Location: Williamsport – Susquehanna Bank Park at Historic Bowman Field: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 3]
Though Casey Grayson collected his first homer of the season, the Spikes still fell again at Williamsport, 8-4. This is the second away series the Spikes have lost to Williamsport (PHI) and their third ‘Cutters series loss of the season (the entire six-game opening weekend against Williamsport – three at Medlar Field and three at Susquehanna Bank Park). The Spikes also yielded their lead in the NYPL wild card, now a half-game behind West Virginia.
Cole Lankford (3-for-4) knocked in two runs. Josh Swirchak narrowly missed a home run with a wall-ball double, and collected an RBI groundout in the ninth. Grayson’s first homer – a solo-shot to right field – in the sixth gave the Spikes their four runs.
Starter Jorge Rodriguez earned the loss, yielding five runs on eight hits and four walks with two strikeouts over five innings.
WP: Taveras, Jose. (7-2) [3.08]
LP: Rodriguez, Jorge. (4-4) [3.63]
Thursday, August 27: Auburn Doubledays (3) at State College Spikes (1)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1]
State College was held to just one hit – an R. J. Dennard groundball single to right in the sixth – and one run in a 3-1 loss against Auburn (WSH) at home. The Spikes were pushed to 1 1/2 games behind West Virginia in the wild card standings.
The only run scored was from Jose Godoy in the sixth – where State College mounted an attempted rally. Thomas Spitz hit a groundball to third that turned into a Doubledays’ error of which Godoy took advantage.
Starter Dailyn Martinez took the loss, yielding three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings. Relievers Max Almonte and Kender Villegas each took three batters and one inning to finish the game.
WP: Crownover, Matthew. (1-4) [3.66]
LP: Martinez, Dailyn. (3-5) [3.49]
Friday, August 28: State College Spikes (5) versus Auburn Doubledays (4)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 2]
A rally that started in the fifth inning and ended in the eighth allowed the Spikes to close up a 4-0 deficit and gain a one-run win over the Auburn Doubledays (WSH) 5-4. The much-needed victory decreased the wild card gap behind West Virginia (PIT) to one game.
The Spikes got on the board via a pair of RBI from Jose Godoy in the fifth and a run from Orlando Olivera – on a Ronnierd Garcia sac fly – in the sixth. In the eighth, Godoy doubled to tie up the game and later Garcia scored on a bases-loaded, wild pitch to move ahead by one run.
Starter Juan Perez yielded all four runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batsman with five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. Reliever Kevin Alexander earned the win with 1 2/3 scoreless, yielding only two hits and collecting three strikeouts. Pedro Echemendia added the save with a 1-2-3 inning that included a strikeout.
WP: Alexander, Kevin. (2-1) [2.95] < br>
LP: Vossen, Van. (0-1) [13.50]
SV: Echemendia, Pedro. (10)
Pedro Echemendia. Echemendia has earned 10 saves and is unscored upon in his last 13 games, covering 18 1/3 innings. The 24-year-old Cuban went 8-for-8 in saves during that time with saves on both this Friday and Saturday.
Casey Grayson. Grayson increased his average – pulling himself out a small slump in the past couple of weeks – and collected his first home run of the season (a solo shot to right field) against Williamsport on Wednesday. Also against Williamsport, Grayson had two games in a row where he produced at least two hits for the Spikes (Tuesday and Wednesday). In the past 10 games, Grayson has accumulated an average of .353 with three runs on 12 hits, one home run, four RBI, five walks and nine strikeouts. Grayson is also second on the team in batting average with a .316 mark.
Orlando Olivera. Olivera has the highest batting average on the team at .358. This week, his hitting aided the Spikes in rallying from a 4-0 deficit to a 5-4 win against the Auburn Doubledays (Friday night) and has produced straight multi-hit nights for the Spikes in the games against Auburn and Williamsport.
Ronnierd Garcia. After coming back from a groin injury that kept him off the field for at least a month, Garcia has slowly been working his way up to where he was before the injury. In the past 10 games, Garcia is batting .152 with one run on five hits in 33 at-bats with four RBI and 11 strikeouts.
Juan Perez. The right-handed pitcher has been oscillating between good and bad starts recently. In his last three outings, totaling 15 innings, Perez has allowed 10 runs. This week, he yielded all four Auburn's Friday night runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batsman in 6 1/3 innings.
On Wednesday, August 26, infielder Josh Swirchak was promoted to the single-A Peoria Chiefs. Swirchak, who came to the Spikes as a non-drafted free agent this season, left with an average of .229 with 13 runs on 33 hits, 13 walks and 20 strikeouts in a 144 at-bats with 15 RBI in 43 games.
No new injuries to report.
New York-Penn League Pinckney Division Standings
1. Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) [42-24]
2. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [35-31]
3. State College Spikes (STL) [34-31]
4. Auburn Doubledays (WSH) [29-35]
5. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) [29-35]
6. Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) [27-38]
Wild Card Standings
1. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [35-31]
2. State College Spikes (STL) [34-31]: ½ Game Behind
3. Aberdeen IronBirds (BAL) [34-32]: 1 Game Behind
4. Hudson Valley Renegades (TB) [33-32]: 1 ½ Games Behind
5. Lowell Spinners (BOS) [33-33]: 2 Games Behind
6. Connecticut Tigers (DET) [31-31]: 2 Games Behind
What is Next
The Spikes will finish their three-game series against Auburn at home on Saturday night. State College will then travel back to Mahoning Valley for a three-day, four-game series against the Scrappers. On Sunday, the teams will make up a game that was lost earlier in the season (June 27) due to rain, following a regular game at 3:05 p.m. and on Monday they will play one game at 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday, the Spikes will finish the series at Mahoning Valley before returning home to compete in their last home stand of the regular season, consisting of five games: Batavia from Wednesday to Friday and games on Saturday and Sunday against Williamsport.
On Monday, the Spikes will finish their series at Williamsport with a 1:05 p.m. game, the last contest of the regular season.
Follow Stephanie Panny on Twitter @StephaniePanny.
© 2015 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.