The State College Spikes dominated their second week of competition, posting a 6-1 record against the West Virginia Black Bears (Pirates), the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets), and one game against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Indians). Early in the week, the Spikes earned their second consecutive sweep on the road against the Black Bears, helping to move them to 11-4 on the year.
Manager Johnny Rodriguez is proud of how his team has come to life on the road and continued the momentum returning home to State College. “They’re grinders; they don’t panic,” Rodriguez said. “This is not a rah-rah team. This is not a powerful team. This is a quiet team. They go about their business and they do things right at the right time.”
Saturday, June 25th: State College Spikes 5 at West Virginia Black Bears 2
As the Spikes began their three game road series against the Black Bears of West Virginia, the team was riding a high after sweeping the Batavia Muckdogs. State College continued its offensive hot streak with nine hits in its 5-2 victory, extending their win streak to four. An RBI and two balks from West Virginia brought in two runs in the third for State College, giving them a lead they would not relinquish.
Ryan McCarvel capped the scoring with a solo home run to left center field in the fifth. The first baseman’s deep shot flew into the scoreboard, marking the team’s first long ball this season. McCarvel also doubled to center field in the second, going 2-for-4. Tommy Edman continued to be a spark, going 3-for-4 with a double, walk, and two RBI.
Ronnie Williams pitched seven innings, throwing 63 strikes in 99 pitches, while yielding one unearned run on five hits and two walks. Williams contributed to the strong defensive effort in a 3-6-1 double play in the first, before his only unearned run scored due to a throwing error by Jose Martinez. Brady Bowen allowed just one earned run on two hits and four strikeouts over the final two innings.
WP: Williams, Ronnie (1-1, 3.75)
LP: Anderson, Matt (0-1, 5.79)
Sunday, June 26th: State College Spikes 3 at West Virginia Black Bears 1
History was made Sunday night as Bryan Dobzanski became only the fourth pitcher in State College Spikes’ history to go eight innings in a start.
Dobzanski allowed just one run on six hits and one walk, while striking out one. The right-hander threw 68 strikes in just 93 pitches, dominating the Black Bears hitters. Dobzanski proved that efficient pitchers can field too, leaping off the mound to make a diving catch in the third to snag a pop up bunt to his left and doubling up the runner at second base, with help from shortstop Jose Martinez.
After Dobzanski’s impressive eight innings, left-hander Jordan DeLorenzo allowed one hit in the ninth, but struck out his final two batters to earn the save.
Although the offense had been very hot in recent games, the team relied on miscues from the Black Bears to score two of their three runs. Danny Martin’s lead off ground ball double to left got the Spikes rolling. Dylan Tice was hit by a pitch and Martinez walked to give the Spikes two more baserunners. Two wild pitches and a sacrifice fly to deep right from Ricardo Bautista scored all three Spikes and give the team an early 3-0 lead that they would give up.
WP: Dobzanski, Bryan (2-1, 2.25)
LP: Escobar, Luis (0-1, 5.79)
SV: DeLorenzo, Jordan (0-0, 1 SV, 0.00)
Monday, June 27th: State College Spikes 6 at West Virginia Black Bears 1
State College’s 6-1 victory on Monday in West Virginia gave the Spikes their second consecutive sweep, and a perfect 6-0 road trip.
Elier Rodriguez capped the Spikes scoring with a two run shot in the fifth that fell far over the right center field fence. The Spikes had opened the scoring with two runs in the third from Vincent Jackson’s ground ball single to right and a Black Bears error. In the fifth, a line drive shot to left from Tommy Edman plated two more.
Starter Dailyn Martinez struck out four, increasing his season total to 17. The right-hander yielded one run on five hits and two walks in six innings. West Virginia’s only run was unearned, scoring on a walk and three wild pitches from Martinez in the second.
Following in relief were John Kilichowski and Spencer Trayner, both making their professional debuts. The two are not only 2016 Cardinals draft picks, but were also high school teammates in Florida. Kilichowski allowed one walk and struck out two in two innings. Trayner conceded two walks and a wild pitch in four batters, but helped to force the ground ball to Edman at second that resulted in a 4-6-3 game-ending double play.
WP: Martinez, Dailyn (2-1, 0.96)
LP: Meyer, Stephan (1-1, 5.27)
Tuesday, June 28th: Brooklyn Cyclones 6 at State College Spikes 2
The Spikes ended their six game winning streak as the Cyclones took the 6-2 decision. The only real spark for the Spikes came from State College’s 4th fest fireworks being tested during the eighth and ninth innings.
Even the accidental fireworks could not get State College’s offense going, after Harol Gonzalez shut down the Spikes with 10 strikeouts in six innings. Bladimil Franco ended the Cyclones no-hitter in the fifth with a single and added a walk and a run scored.
Starter Carson Cross threw five innings, but the Cyclones figured him out, posting eight hits and three runs, two earned, against the right-hander. Cross struck out six in the effort and took the loss.
WP: Gonzalez, Harol (1-1, 2.55)
LP: Cross, Carson (1-1, 4.86)
Wednesday, June 29th: Brooklyn Cyclones 8 at State College Spikes 9 (11 innings)
The Spikes took game two, 9-8 from the Cyclones in dramatic walk off fashion after 11 innings and four and a half hours. It was just a half hour shy of the longest home game in Spikes’ history.
A 7-2 advantage after three innings looked promising for the Spikes offense. Dylan Tice blasted a two-run home run into the right field bleachers in the second. But in the sixth and seventh, the Cyclones tallied six more runs to take the lead. The two teams remained scoreless for nearly four innings before Danny Hudzina scored the walk off game winner in the 11th after Tice was hit by a pitch with bases loaded.
Six different Spikes saw time on the rubber. Steven Farinaro made the start, throwing 86 pitches, 51 for strikes, and allowing two runs on six hits and three walks. A grand-slam off reliever Greg Tomchick marked the right-hander with a blown save. Brady Bowen and Bob Wheatley combined for 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief with Wheatley taking the win.
State College pitchers allowed 10 walks and 14 hits, nearly giving the Cyclones the game, but Brooklyn’s pitching staff was facing similar problems and the timing worked out in favor of the Spikes.
WP: Wheatley, Bob (1-0, 0.00)
LP: Castro, Alejandro (1-1, 5.14)
Thursday, June 30th: Brooklyn Cyclones 4 at State College Spikes 10
In addition to the Spikes’ excitement from 377 dogs in attendance at their first “Bark in the Park” night of the season, the 3,833 fans in the crowd witnessed history. Ryan McCarvel hit for the cycle - only the second cycle in Spikes history - and Ronnie Williams recorded 10 strikeouts in the 10-4 decision.
McCarvel’s fantastic night started with an RBI single in the first, followed by a triple that bounced off the center field wall, nearly going out of the park. The first baseman sprinted around the basepaths to turn the powerful shot into extra bases, while scoring Dylan Tice. The 2015 19th round draft choice doubled in the sixth with a line drive that bounced once before slamming into the awkwardly shaped “BB&T nook” in left center. McCarvel’s cycle was completed in fairytale fashion in the eighth, as he went yard over the left field fence. McCarvel took a huge hack on the first pitch of his at bat to send the ball high sailing through the night sky, landing nearly foul and bouncing off the tables. A few Cyclones players tipped their caps as McCarvel rounded the basepaths, greeted at home by Spikes’ score sirens and cheering teammates, while fans applauded and announcers marveled at the sight.
Starter Ronnie Williams also made his mark with 10 strikeouts, tying the franchise record and putting him atop the Spikes’ season leaders with 18 total. In 93 pitches over eight innings, Williams allowed just three runs on six hits and a walk. The 2014 second-round draft choice was added to the now five man list of Spikes’ who have gone eight innings in a single start.
Williams described the record breaking night as “amazing,” but also said that he couldn’t have done it without help from his team. “I just focused. Focus...that’s what it’s all about,” Williams said. “I fought for my team and they fought for me, and it worked out well.”
WP: Williams, Ronnie (2-1, 3.60)
LP: Huertas, Joel (0-2, 10.43)
Friday, July 1st: Mahoning Valley Scrappers 3 at State College Spikes 4
A rain delay caused the 7:05 start to be pushed back until 7:45, but the setback did not prohibit the Spikes from scoring. Manager Johnny Rodriguez said that “there’s nothing exciting about them [Spikes]” but “they’re a grinding team, they do the little things.” The Spikes showed their ability to execute the little things and get timely hits in the 4-2 decision.
Back to back RBI doubles from Ryan McCarvel and Jeremy Martinez gave the Spikes their first run in the fourth. The Spikes added to their 2-0 lead in the fifth, with a two-run home run powered over the right field wall by Anthony Ray, the center fielder's first this season and just the second in his four-year pro career.
Starter Bryan Dobzanski picked up his second win this week. The right-hander pitched six innings, yielding six hits and one run and recording six strikeouts. Reliever Max Almonte was charged with two runs and three hits in just two innings. The right hander nearly gave up the win, but the Spikes defense was able to hold the Scrappers even with runners on.
“I was a little worried there in the seventh with Almonte,” Rodriguez said. “That cannot happen in a big game like that, and it will be addressed.”
Eric Carter took the mound for the final inning and earned the save, striking out two.
WP: Dobzanski, Bryan (2-1, 2.25)
LP: Kime, Dace (0-1, 6.35)
SV: Carter, Eric (1, 0.00)
Ryan McCarvel. Just the fact that McCarvel hit for the cycle earns him a spot on the hot list this week, as only the second player in Spikes’ history to accomplish such a feat. McCarvel posted five RBI in Thursday’s game, and leads the Spikes with 10 RBI this season. The catcher/first baseman has started in 13 of 15 games, notching 13 hits and nine runs. McCarvel also leads the Spikes’ in the home run column, the only player to hit two out so far this season. The 21-year-old has been consistent in the field as well as at the plate, and should remain in the lineup as long as he keeps hitting like he has been this week.
Dylan Tice. Tice stepped up on offense to bring in three runs on six hits over five appearances this week. The second baseman scored five times. Tice had his most impressive outing on Thursday against Brooklyn when he went 3-for-5 with a hard line drive single. The shot took a nasty hop over the center fielder’s head and rolled nearly to the wall, allowing him to use his speed on the basepaths to reach third on the error and score Martinez all the way from first.
Danny Hudzina. Hudzina is an asset to the Spikes as a third baseman and has started there in nine of 15 games so far. He has phenomenal range with several diving grabs at the hot corner and his arm is consistent, but he just isn’t getting it done at the plate. Hudzina has gone 0-for-4 six times in his nine appearances and only has four hits on the season. The former Western Kentucky star is a key element to the defense, but needs to pick up the pace at the dish and start finding holes in the defense to bring up his average (.114) and on-base percentage (.184) - the lowest of any Spike currently.
Max Almonte. Almonte has only seen the rubber three times, but his ERA is the highest on the pitching staff (9.00). In the sixth inning Wednesday night, the right-hander faced only four batters, yielding one hit, three walks, a wild pitch and two runs before being replaced. Almonte also conceded two runs on Friday against the Scrappers.
Greg Tomchick. Tomchick was responsible for the grand slam that nearly gave the Cyclones a win on Wednesday night. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases and Brandon Brosher went yard for Brooklyn. The four run shot was the first homer allowed by a Spikes’ pitcher so far this year and marked Tomchick with a blown save. His ERA is now the second highest on the staff (8.31).
Something to forget
Ryan McCarvel dropped a foul pop up in the fourth inning against the Scrappers on Friday night. The first baseman made a nice effort to get completely under the ball and it even fell into his glove, but he couldn’t handle it and was charged with the error. Mahoning Valley’s batter struck out on the next pitch, but missing the easy out could have had a more serious effect on the inning. McCarvel has typically been a solid first baseman for the Spikes, but the play was embarrassing - and quite frankly hard to watch.
Something to remember
The entire week seemed to be filled with exciting moments and history being made for the Spikes franchise. So naturally, there were tons of things to remember. But a diving catch from Tommy Edman that robbed Brooklyn’s Gene Cone of a hit was one of the best defensive plays all week that was slightly overshadowed by many “making history” headlines.
Edman covered serious ground, sprinting into shallow left field and laying out to snag the falling pop fly that almost dropped in for a single. The clutch catch was made with one out and runners on first and second for the Cyclones, as Edman saved what could have been a run scoring drive. The ESPN Top-10 worthy catch displays Edman’s impact as an infielder.
New York-Penn League Pinckney Division Standings
1. State College Spikes (STL) [11-4]
2. Auburn Doubledays (WSH) [9-6]
3. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [8-7]
3. Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) [8-7]
5. Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) [4-11]
6. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) [3-12]
The Spikes have a two-game lead over the Auburn Doubledays. The 11-4 start is one of the best in Spikes’ franchise history.
7/1 - OF Bladimil Franco is promoted to the Peoria Chiefs. Franco made eight starts in right field for the Spikes before his promotion. The outfielder had eight hits in 31 at-bats (.258), including three doubles, two walks, scored four and drove in five during his short time in State College. Franco was first signed by the Cardinals as a free agent in 2011.
State College will finish out its three game home series with Mahoning Valley and then head up to New York to face the Tri-City ValleyCats. Following the road trip, the Spikes will have a day off before beginning their home series against the Auburn Doubledays on Friday.
Follow Kara Duriez on Twitter @KaraDuriez.
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