Mick Fennell (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

In-depth weekly news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ short-season Class-A affiliate in the New York-Penn League

Despite a current four-game losing streak against Connecticut and Mahoning Valley, the State College Spikes remain on top of the New York-Penn League's Pinckney Division for the third straight week with an 18-10 record. Jeremy Martinez becomes a consistent starter behind the plate. Mick Fennell finds his role on offense and Brady Bowen gets an impressive save. Ronnie Williams remains a pitching powerhouse.

State College swept the Auburn Doubledays at home to start the week, but then ran into trouble on the road at Connecticut, shut out twice after winning the opener. The Spikes ended the week by dropping a pair at home to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. That flipped a five-game winning streak into a four-game losing skid.


Game Summaries

Saturday, July 9th: Auburn Doubledays 3 vs. State College Spikes 10

The Spikes won in a blowout, scoring seven runs in an explosive second frame, and adding three more over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

The offense batted around and then some in the second, bringing 11 to the plate. The seven run rally started when Josh Swirchak (2-for-4) slammed a line drive over the left fielder’s head, rolling to the wall and allowing Jeremy Martinez to score. Tommy Edman (2-for-5, 2 RBI) followed with a stand up triple in the right center gap, and Dylan Tice (1-for-5) kept it going with an almost identical hit to Edman’s, but he stopped at second.

Ryan McCarvel impressed, going 3-for-5, including a solo shot blasted far over the center field fence on a full count. McCarvel had two RBI, and Vincent Jackson, Mick Fennell and Danny Hudzina all drove in one.

Carson Cross earned the win after pitching six innings and yielding just one run on five hits and three walks, with four strikeouts. Robby Rowland tossed one inning in his first rehab appearance this season, but gave up two earned runs on a walk and two hits. Max Almonte pitched the last two innings, striking out one and allowing one hit.
WP: Cross, Carson (2-2, 3.82)

LP: Ramirez, Yonathan (2-1, 5.17)


Sunday, July 10th: Auburn Doubledays 3 vs. State College Spikes 10

Another 10-3 victory gave the Spikes the series sweep, while strengthening their hold on first place.

Dylan Tice (2-for-4) led the offense with a two run home run to right-center, breaking the 3-3 tie in the third. A five run eighth inning was led by Elier Rodriguez as his line drive single to right plated a run. Jose Martinez then drew a bases-loaded walk, and Vincent Jackson knocked in three runs on a fly ball triple to right that capped the scoring. The Spikes complied 11 hits and three walks in 36 at-bats.

Steven Farinaro started and picked up the win, allowing just three runs on six hits and five walks. Farinaro threw 95 pitches, 52 for strikes, and struck out two over six innings before Bob Wheatley came on in relief. Wheatley and Greg Tomchick combined for three scoreless innings to secure the win.

WP: Farinaro, Steven (3-0, 5.34)

LP: Davis, Weston (2-2, 3.32)


Monday, July 11th: State College Spikes 3 at Connecticut Tigers 1

The Spikes started their road trip to Connecticut with a 3-1 victory over the Tigers Monday night at Thomas J. Dodd Stadium, marking their fifth consecutive win.

Tommy Edman (2-for-4) led the offense with a double and a single, but a walk for Ryan McCarvel and a double from Dylan Tice got the scoring going. An error and a sacrifice fly from Jeremy Martinez scored another. Jose Martinez capped the scoring by bringing in Tommy Edman on a single to left field. The Spikes combined for just six hits and three walks, but that was enough to edge the Tigers.

Ronnie Williams started and earned the win, allowing one run on five hits, two walks and a hit batsman in seven strong innings. The 2014 second-round draft choice struck out three and threw 84 pitches, 51 for strikes. Brady Bowen collected his second save with two perfect innings, striking out three of his six batters faced.

WP: Williams, Ronnie (3-1, 2.62)

LP: Soto, Gregory (0-1, 3.48)

SV: Bowen, Brady (2)


Tuesday, July 12th: State College Spikes 0 at Connecticut Tigers 2

The 2-0 decision in favor of the Tigers ended the Spikes’ five game winning streak.

The Spikes remained hitless until the sixth when Danny Hudzina (1-for-3) doubled off the left-center field wall. A two base hit down the right field line gave Jeremy Martinez (1-for-3) a stand up double in the eighth, but that was it as the two-hit night left the Spikes scoreless.

Starter Bryan Dobzanski took the loss after yielding both Tigers’ runs on six hits and three walks over five innings. Dobzanski struck out three. Jordan DeLorenzo provided two scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts. Robby Rowland struck out all three batters in the ninth in his second performance of his rehab assignment.

WP: Castillo, Oswaldo (1-0, 1.59)

LP: Dobzanski, Bryan (2-2, 2.25)


Wednesday, July 13th: State College Spikes 0 at Connecticut Tigers 4

An 11:05 a.m. start did not suit the Spikes, as they dropped the 4-0 decision. The second straight shutout by Tigers pitching was fueled by the State College offense hitting into a season high four double plays. The Spikes outhit the Tigers 8-7.

Ricardo Bautista and Dylan Tice collected two hits apiece, but the Spikes offense had no extra-base hits and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Tommy Edman picked up his team-leading sixth stolen base.

Dewin Perez took the loss in his first starting assignment, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks over five innings. The right-hander struck out five before Spencer Trayner replaced him to start the sixth. Trayner pitched two scoreless innings with three hits, a walk and a strikeout. Eric Carter pitched the 1-2-3 final frame with a strikeout.

WP: Castellanos, Ryan (4-2, 2.20)

LP: Perez, Dewin (2-1, 2.53)


Thursday, July 14th: Mahoning Valley Scrappers 7 at State College Spikes 4

State College tried to come back from a deep hole after Mahoning Valley led 7-0 after the top of the seventh, but four runs in the final three innings was not enough.

State College outhit Mahoning Valley 10-8, but struggled to mount any significant rallies. The Spikes went an amazing 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position, including leaving the bases loaded twice without scoring. Ricardo Bautista and Elier Rodriguez both went 2-for-4, but a combined eight strikeouts stumped the offense.

Despite the loss, the defense made an ESPN worthy 2-6-5-6 pick off play in a rundown in the fifth inning after a Scrappers runner tripped and was caught too far off second base on his lead. Jeremy Martinez threw to Jose Martinez at second, who eventually chased down and tagged the runner after a few tosses back and forth to Dylan Tice at third.

John Kilichowski took the loss after going five innings, throwing 79 pitches, 48 for strikes, and yielding three walks, four hits and two runs, only one earned. Greg Tomchick added 1 2/3 innings but gave up five runs on two hits and three walks. Max Almonte closed out the final 2 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits.

WP: Letkewicz, Michael (1-0, 1.98)

LP: Kilichowski, John (1-1, 0.60)


Friday, July 15th: Mahoning Valley Scrappers 8 at State College Spikes 5

The Spikes tried to get going early with help from their Ghostbusters promotion night, including “State Puft Marshmallow Men” jerseys, but the offense again showed up too late. State College attempted a comeback in the bottom of the ninth by scoring three, but Mahoning Valley took the 8-5 decision.

State College outhit Mahoning Valley again (12 to 9) but still suffered by giving the Scrappers extra baserunners. Three errors, one by Ricardo Bautista in right and two by Ryan McCarvel at first (one fielding and one catching), were costly and gave Mahoning Valley an advantage early.

Mick Fennell went 2-for-3 with a bunt single down the third base line, a walk, and a run scored. Jeremy Martinez and Vincent Jackson both went 2-for-4, and helped the team come alive in the ninth. Prior to the three run last-chance rally, the Spikes other two runs were plated by an RBI single from Jackson and a bases loaded walk in the first.

Matt Davis (1-for-5) and Andy Young (0-for-5) both had their first outings with the team, and seemed to fit in well with the team despite struggling to adjust at the plate. Young, up from the GCL, made a fantastic diving play in shallow right field to snag a falling pop fly that would have scored two for Mahoning Valley.

Carson Cross struck out three in 90 pitches, only 54 for strikes. He yielded six hits, three runs, two earned, and a walk before Wheatley replaced him for 1 2/3 innings and allowed four runs. DeLorenzo threw two innings but walked three, before Spencer Trayner struck out the final Scrapper.

WP: Colegate, Ryan (1-2, 7.07)

LP: Cross, Carson (2-3, 3.79)


Who’s Hot


Mick Fennell. Although Fennell did not see much action early in the season, he has found his way into the offense as of late. The 22-year-old started in the outfield five times this week, going 7-for-15 overall. Fennell now leads the team in batting (.409) in just 10 games and 22 at-bats. The left-handed hitter has three doubles, seven walks, five runs and one RBI, and will likely continue to see more starting time if he keeps hitting well.


Brady Bowen. Bowen earned his second save of the season Monday night against the Tigers, helping to secure the 3-1 decision by throwing two perfect innings and striking out three of his six batters. The left hander has appeared in six games and has only allowed two runs on eight hits in 12 2/3 innings pitched. The 23-year-old has struck out 16 and walked two, and his ERA shows his ability to continue as a very effective closer (1.42).


Jeremy Martinez. Ever since Chris Rivera was promoted to Peoria, Martinez has become the consistent starter behind the plate. On Friday night, a wild pitch from Carson Cross sent the ball bouncing off the bricks behind the box, but Martinez read the bounce quickly, sprinting back to tag out a runner attempting to steal home.

Martinez tops the league by having thrown out 10 of 17 runners attempting to steal. The fourth-round draft pick in 2016 has an amazing arm, but he has also become a key element of the offense. The Southern California native now has 17 hits in 52 at bats (.327), with five doubles, eight RBI and 11 walks. The 21-year-old has only one strikeout and will likely continue to make an impact as a run producer, typically listed fifth in the lineup.


Ronnie Williams. Williams continues to the team in the strikeout column with 26 and has thrown 34 1/3 innings, the highest of any Spike. Williams stood out on Monday, throwing seven solid innings while yielding just five hits, two walks and one earned run. The right-hander kept the Tigers at bay with three strikeouts. The 2014 second-round draft pick has lowered his ERA from 9.00 at the start of the season, to a now respectable 2.62 over his five outings.


Who’s Not

Ricardo Bautista. Although Bautista is usually a consistent run producer with 10 doubles and 12 RBI, he also leads the Spikes in the strikeout column at 34, which ranks second highest in the NYPL. Bautista also made an atypical error in right field on Friday night, over running a ground ball hit to him in right field that allowed a Mahoning Valley baserunner to advance from third to second and eventually score. The 20-year-old from Puerto Rico has arguably the best arm of any State College outfielder, but he had a quiet week defensively. At the plate, though, he was 8-for-24 (.333) with five RBI.

Josh Swirchak. Swirchak has received a lot of time in the field lately, thanks to his hot bat and Danny Martin’s absence (injury). But in Thursday night’s game against Mahoning Valley, Swirchak went 0-for-4 (.200) and blew a bases loaded two out opportunity with a pop out to right field, leaving three runners on base and failing to take advantage of what could have been several runs. In the same game, Swirchak made a rough throwing error to first base in the third that ended up scoring on a following triple, marking his fourth of the season. At the plate, Swirchak is 0-for-10, lowering his season average to .200. The Wilmington University native has the potential to continue as a starter, but may start to fall into the background if his inconsistencies persist.

Danny Hudzina. Hudzina has been starting less and less at third base lately, for good reason. In his last four games, he has gone 4-for-14 and his overall batting average is suffering (.191). The Western Kentucky native also has 10 strikeouts. The Spikes have started to rely on more consistent hitters to start at the hot corner, cutting Hudzina’s time on the field in half. Although Hudzina did have a two RBI double to left on Friday night against Mahoning Valley, his spurts of offense are too inconsistent. The third baseman has good defensive skills but made an awkward backhand stab on a play in Connecticut and his trouble offensively has become a recurring challenge.



Something to forget

Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Tigers ended the Spikes’ five game winning streak, as they collected only two hits over nine innings. The offensive struggles continued into Wednesday’s contest, as Connecticut shut out the Spikes 4-0 and took the series 2-1. This is already the second time the Spikes have been held scoreless in back-to-back games in 2016 - undoubtedly not a good path to keep following if State College wants to remain on the top of the division.

Something to remember

Saturday night’s game was dedicated to Josiah Viera - the team’s honorary bench coach who has thrown a ceremonial first pitch to open every single game so far this season. Viera, who suffers from Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria, was honored with his very own bobble head given to the first 1,000 fans at the game. The inspirational 12-year-old even guested on the Spikes’ radio broadcast before joining the team in the dugout for the rest of the game. Josiah sported a red State College jersey for the entire Auburn home series, so the entire team followed suit in order to match him. State College’s “Strikeout Progeria Night!” which raised awareness and funds to battle Viera’s disease, was made even more special with the Spikes’ 10-3 victory over the Auburn Doubledays.

Read more about Josiah Viera and the Spikes’ “Strikeout Progeria Night!” here.


Team Stats

Batting     Pitching  
R 142   R 106
H 241   H 239
HR 12   HR 6
RBI 119   SO 194
SO 183   BB 88
BB 111   ER 85
AVG 0.251   ERA 2.99

Despite the recent hitting slump, the Spikes are tied for second with Vermont in the team hits column with 241, falling just behind Tri-City’s 268. The team leads the NYPL in doubles with 56, but comes in second in several other categories including: runs scored (142), RBI’s (119), walks (111), on-base percentage (.337) and slugging percentage (.363).

State College pitching ranks sixth in ERA (2.99) and second in hits allowed (239).


New York-Penn League Pinckney Standings

1. State College Spikes (STL) [18-10]

2. Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) [15-13]

3. Auburn Doubledays (WSH) [14-14]

4. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [13-15]

5. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) [10-18]

6. Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) [6-22]

After sweeping Auburn last week, State College extended its lead in the NYPL Pinckney Division to four games. Although the Spikes have now topped the division for three straight weeks, their two losses to Mahoning Valley knocked their edge down to two. State College needs to pick up the pace or Williamsport may catch up before they know it.



7/10 - Catcher Riley Drongesen was promoted to the Peoria Chiefs (single-A). However, just three days (7/13) later Drongesen was sent back down to State College. In that time, the Granite Bay, California native played just one game with the Chiefs as a designated hitter on the 11th. Drongesen doubled and struck out once in four at-bats in the 3-5 loss. The quick switch, to backfill for others up the line, will keep Drongesen in State College for the time being.

7/14 - INF Andy Young promoted to the Spikes. The Cardinals’ 37th round draft pick played 11 games for the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Cardinals (rookie level) before being promoted to State College. The Indiana State native showed his versatility by playing third, second, left field, and right field, in addition to a few games as a designated hitter. Young collected two doubles and one triple in 10 hits, with five RBI and arrived with an impressive average overall (.323). Young made his first professional start on Friday (7/15) at second base, but went 0-for-5.

7/14 - INF Matt Davis signs with the Cardinals; assigned to State College Spikes. The free agent infielder played for the Brewster Whitecaps before being signed by St. Louis. The VCU junior and Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania native was leading the Cape Cod League this summer with seven home runs. Davis made his first start on Friday (7/15) as the designated hitter, going 1-for-5.



Up Next

After the Spikes round out their three game home series with Mahoning Valley, they will head to Massachusetts to face the Lowell Spinners. Following the road trip, State College will have a day off before returning home to host the Auburn Doubledays for another three game series.

Follow Kara Duriez on Twitter @KaraDuriez.

© 2016 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories