Eric Carter (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 for the period of July 16-22.

State College sits atop the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division for the fourth week in a row with a 23-11 record. The Spikes also hold the top record in the entire NYPL. Eric Carter leads the team with four saves and Jose Martinez shines right before his promotion. Ricardo Bautista dominates at the plate and in right field. Elier Rodriguez becomes a consistent run scorer.

The State College Spikes started out the week strongly, taking a 9-3 decision over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers to close out the home series, before heading up to Massachusetts to go 2-1 against the Lowell Spinners. A day off on Wednesday gave the Spikes rest before closing out the week at home, taking two from the Auburn Doubledays.

Dropping just one game the entire week, manager Johnny Rodriguez continues to be proud of his team’s ability to bounce back.

“They don’t get too high after a lot of wins and they don’t get too low after losses,” Rodriguez said. “They stay right there, no matter what’s going on in the game.”

 

Game Summaries

Saturday, July 16th: Mahoning Valley Scrappers 3 vs. State College Spikes 9

State College powered past Mahoning Valley to avoid the sweep after falling 7-4 and 8-5 to start the series. The Spikes made history in Saturday’s victory, walking 16 times - the most in a single game in franchise history - to help gain baserunners and take the win. Each Spike walked at least once and Ricardo Bautista three times.

Ryan McCarvel (2-for-4, three RBI) led the offense with his fifth home run of the season. The shot flew far over the left field fence and into the Picnic Pavilion of Medlar Field, breaking the 3-3 tie. Tommy Edman (2-for-3) and Matt Davis (1-for-4) each notched a pair of RBI, in addition to Riley Drongesen’s (1-for-3) run scoring triple in the fifth. The Spikes outhit the Scrappers just 9-7, but took advantage of Mahoning Valley’s six pitching changes and the generous walks to take the 9-3 decision.

Steven Farinaro earned the win, yielding three runs on six hits and no walks. The right-hander struck out seven in six innings. Robby Rowland and Jonathan Escudero combined for three innings and three strikeouts, allowing no runs and no walks.

WP: Farinaro, Steven (4-0, 5.19)

LP: Kime, Dace (0-2, 11.57)

 

Sunday, July 17th: State College Spikes 7 at Lowell Spinners 4

Sunday’s 7-4 decision gave the Spikes their 20th win, becoming the first team in the New York-Penn League to do so this season.

Jeremy Martinez got the offense going with a two out, two RBI single in the first. Jose Martinez (4-for-4) followed in the second with a fly ball double to deep center to score Danny Hudzina (3-for-4) and extend the lead to 3-0. Vincent Jackson’s double and Hudzina’s single scored two more in the fifth. The Spikes capped their scoring in the seventh off a wild pitch and a single from Mick Fennell.

Ronnie Williams started and threw six powerful innings, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk. The right-hander struck out four to notch his fourth consecutive win. Brady Bowen threw 2 2/3 innings, but yielded seven hits and three runs that gave the Spinners comeback momentum. Eric Carter earned the save after throwing six pitches to just one batter and producing a fly ball third-out to right field, with a runner on third.

WP: Williams, Ronnie (4-1, 2.45)

LP: Steen, Kevin (1-3, 6.49)

SV: Carter, Eric (3)

 

Monday, July 18th: State College Spikes 2 at Lowell Spinners 9

The Spikes’ dropped the 9-2 decision to the Spinners, despite a combined 11 hits compared to Lowell’s 12. State College’s offense could not get any real rallies going, unlike the Spinners.

Jose Martinez (4-for-5) became the first player in franchise history to record consecutive four-hit games, singling in each of first four at-bats and improving his batting average to .284. Tommy Edman led off with a home run on the second pitch of the game. The long ball flew over the right field fence to notch the Spikes first run and Edman’s second homer this season. Ryan McCarvel brought in the final run on a sacrifice fly to center that scored Martinez.

Bryan Dobzanski took the loss after allowing eight runs, six earned, on nine hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings. Dobzanski’s biggest fault of the night was a yielding a grand slam in the third. Max Almonte and Greg Tomchick allowed just one run over a combined 4 2/3 innings of relief but the damage had already been done.

WP: Gonzalez, Daniel (4-1, 1.75)

LP: Dobzanski, Bryan (2-3, 3.57)

 

Tuesday, July 19th: State College Spikes 4 at Lowell Spinners 2

Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over Lowell gave the Spikes their eighth series victory of the last nine sets, as well as the best record (21-11) in the entire New York-Penn League.

Vincent Jackson’s (2-for-4) three-run home run over the right center field fence gave the Spikes a 3-1 lead in the eighth. The long ball was Jackson’s first as a professional and the key component to the Spikes late comeback win. Ricardo Bautista (1-for-2) notched the Spikes final run in the ninth with a sharp ground ball single to left field.

Dewin Perez started, yielding three hits, one run and five walks over 5 2/3 innings. The 21-year-old struck out three before Gerwuins Velazco came on in the sixth. Velazco struck out two and gave up just one hit in 2 1/3 innings for the win. Eric Carter earned his fourth save of the season after pitching the ninth, allowing one run on one hit, while striking out one.

WP: Velazco, Gerwuins (1-0, 1.59)

LP: Martinez, Algenis (0-1, 1.47)

SV: Carter, Eric (4)

 

Wednesday, July 20th: No game. The Spikes had their second off day of the season.

 

Thursday, July 21st: Auburn Doubledays 4 at State College Spikes 7

Despite trailing 4-1 heading into the sixth inning, the Spikes made a late six-run comeback to top the Doubledays. State College was out-hit 12-8, but the eight hits they did have were timely and a three run seventh inning gave the Spikes a lead they would not give up.

A long fly ball to right fielder Ricardo Bautista was caught and thrown home in attempt to prevent Auburn from scoring from third, but an obstruction call on Jeremy Martinez made the runner safe and gave the Doubledays the lead. But Martinez (2-for-4) would get that run back in the eighth with his line drive RBI single to right field.

Elier Rodriguez (2-for-5) led the offense with two RBI doubles, one that was blasted through the 5-6 hole to bounce off the left field wall and one long fly ball to deep right field that hopped over the wall for a ground rule double. Bautista (2-for-4) notched the Spikes first hit and brought in the first run with a double off the center field wall in the fourth. The right-fielder followed with an RBI line drive to the right side in the seventh that broke the 4-4 tie and gave the Spikes a one run lead. State College plated two more on Martinez’s single and a sacrifice fly from Vincent Jackson to cap the score at 7-4.

Carson Cross started but struggled early. The right-hander yielded all four of Auburn’s runs, three earned, on eight hits and two walks over five innings.

“He just didn’t have his stuff tonight,” manager Johnny Rodriguez said. “He got away with a lot and I had to take him out. They could have scored five, six, seven runs easily.

Cross was pulled after 73 pitches, 46 for strikes, and replaced by Jordan DeLorenzo, who earned the win after allowing just two hits and one walk over two scoreless innings and two strikeouts. Spencer Trayner yielded two hits, but produced two more run-free innings to earn the save.

WP: DeLorenzo, Jordan (1-0, 4.66)

LP: Howard, Hayden (0-2, 16.20)

SV: Trayner, Spencer (1)

 

Friday, July 22nd: Auburn Doubledays 8 at State College Spikes 10

In what seemed like a blowout after the first two innings, State College wasted no time taking a 9-0 early lead over Auburn. But after the Doubledays retired 13 consecutive Spikes batters and made an impressive eight-run comeback effort, the result came down to the very last inning as the Spikes managed to hang on to the two-run lead. State College had just 11 hits, while the Doubledays had 21.

Elier Rodriguez (2-for-4) powered the offense with three RBI on two line drive singles to the outfield. Andy Young (2-for-4) launched a two run home run, soaring 410 feet over the deepest part of the Spikes’ center field fence. Riley Drongesen (1-for-4) hit a line drive up the middle that scored two. Both Jeremy Martinez (2-for-4) and Ricardo Bautista (1-for-3) posted an RBI. Every member of the lineup (except Mick Fennell) had at least one hit. Fennell did however score the Spikes 10th and final run, after reaching base in the eighth after being hit by a pitch.

Steven Farinaro started, going 4 1/3 innings and yielding three runs on nine hits and a walk. The right-hander struck out four, but left with a bases loaded situation for Bob Wheatley, who managed to get out of the fifth inning jam. Wheatley struck out one in his 1 2/3 innings, allowing four hits, a walk and one run, and earned the win. Jonathan Escudero gave up a hit in his single inning on the mound. Harley Holt followed, throwing just 1 1/3 innings, yielding four runs, three earned. Brady Bowen then earned the save by allowing just two hits and securing two outs in the ninth with runners on base to close out the game.


WP: Wheatley, Bob (2-0, 0.66)

LP: Bogucki, A.J. (0-3, 14.63)

SV: Bowen, Brady (3)

 

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/204176-jose-martinez?s=321

Jose Martinez. The Machiques de Perija, Venezuela native struggled at the plate earlier this season, but has since bumped his batting average up from a place below .200 to a current .276. In his last 10 games, Martinez went 13-for-40 (.325) with three RBI and six walks. The 19-year-old performed especially well overall in Lowell, going 4-for-4 on Sunday and 4-for-5 on Monday. In light of his offensive hot streak, it is no wonder why the switch-hitter was promoted to Peoria on the 22nd.

http://www.scout.com/player/179945-ricardo-bautista?s=321

Ricardo Bautista.  After making a few poor plays in the outfield last week, Bautista bounced back this week by displaying how good of an outfielder he really is. A shoestring short hop “ESPN top-10” worthy grab in right field on Thursday night kept Auburn from adding extra bases to a single, as well as scoring additional runs. Had Bautista missed or errored on the difficult play, the ball would have rolled to the wall and given the Doubledays at least two runs. The right fielder shined on defense this week, but also on offense. Bautista tallied three RBI and four hits, and now leads the league in doubles (11).

http://www.scout.com/player/179953-elier-rodriguez?s=321

Elier Rodriguez. Rodriguez played in five of the six games this week, displaying his presence as a first baseman and also a major run producer. Rodriguez went 7-for-19, posting a solid average over six games (.368) that shows his impact. The first baseman also notched five RBI and four walks. Although he struck out three times, the Miami, Florida native has actually been keeping his K’s lower than usual. Whether he is in the lineup as a DH or a first baseman, Rodriguez’s undeniable power provides a good argument in keeping him in the meat of the batting order moving forward.

Tommy Edman. The Stanford product continues to do his job as a leadoff batter by getting on base, leading the league in walks (25) and ranking second in on-base percentage (.441). Edman went 6-for-18 this week (.333) with five walks. The 21-year-old’s ability to continue to find a way on gives the Spikes extra baserunners and he scored in all five games in which he played this past week, six runs total.

http://www.scout.com/player/206272-tommy-edman?s=321

(Check out our interview with Edman here.)

Eric Carter. The 24-year-old had an impressive week with two saves, throwing just 1 1/3 innings in his two appearances. Carter gave up only one hit this week and no walks while striking out one. Although his contribution may seem small looking at a bigger picture, the Louisiana-Lafayette product now leads the team in saves (4) with quite the impressive ERA (1.23) and record (1-0), in addition to compiling 11 strikeouts. Used almost exclusively as a closer, Carter has walked just one batter in his total 7 1/3 innings.

http://www.scout.com/player/209703-eric-carter?s=321

(Editor’s note: In one inning of work when I saw him, Carter showed four pitches, a 90-92 fastball, a nice curve in the 74-76 range, as well as a changeup at 87 and slider at 86.)

 

Who’s Not

Carson Cross. Cross started on Thursday against Auburn and pitched for five innings but could not hold on any longer. The 24-year-old gave up four singles, a walk and two runs in the first inning alone. The right hander threw 73 pitches, but only 46 for strikes, giving up four runs, three earned, on eight hits and two walks. Even though Cross leads the team in innings pitched (40 2/3) he has also given up the second highest amount of hits (47) and his ERA is up to 3.98. Although he was not marked with a loss because his offense backed him up, his performance this week was less than spectacular for starting rotation pitcher.

Josh Swirchak. Swirchak fell flat this week in his two starts, going 1-for-9 with no RBI’s and no walks, but one strikeout. The second baseman now sits at .186, with only five hits in his last 10 games out of 26 at-bats. Although he has his moments of offensive power, his poor hitting has reflects the fact that he has not been starting in the field as much as previous weeks.

Matt Davis. The Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania native went 1-for-12 this week with four strikeouts in his three appearances. As Davis has only been in State College for four games, he has not yet gotten used to being a professional, going 3-for-21 (.143) in his first opportunities. Despite his slow start, the infielder has a great swing and should start to make better connections once he gets more reps and at-bats.

 

Awards

None

 

Something to remember

Home crowd State College fans were entertained on Saturday night with the “Cowboy Monkey Rodeo show”, which featured three monkeys riding border collies that corralled six goats into a pen. The event took place twice during the game in the outfield as several players attempted to avoid being run over by the sprinting goats while trying to warm up between innings. The sight was nothing short of hilarious to watch, and definitely got the crowd’s attention - and the dugout’s - as the Spikes rallied for the 9-3 victory.

In addition to the rodeo show promotion, another notable item from the week was the high amount of Spikes’ hit by pitches. Six batters in Thursday’s and Friday’s games alone were hit and gave State College plenty of baserunners which led to runs.

 

Something to forget

State College’s base running was overall pretty poor throughout the week, but showed especially on Thursday night against Auburn - even in the 7-4 victory. That contributed to a 5-for-17 with runners in scoring position mark and the Spikes stranding 11 on the bases.

“Our base running wasn’t good tonight,” said Manager Johnny Rodriguez of Thursday’s contest. “We had a couple of opportunities at second base to get to third base. We have to keep working on getting better at reading the defense or it will continue to cost us. The opportunities are there, but we have to be smarter on the base paths to get a rhythm going.”

Rodriguez also said that he had a special drill planned for batting practice to hopefully improve the problem and get his players to start being smarter baserunners.

 

Team Stats

Batting     Pitching  
R 181   R 136
H 299   ER 110
HR 16   H 307
RBI 154   SO 228
SO 218   BB 103
BB 146   HR 8
AVG 0.257   ERA 3.21

The Spikes are powerful offensively, and the team stats show it. State College ranks second in runs (181), RBI’s (154) and hits (299), falling just behind Tri-City in each column. The lineup leads the league in doubles (67) and walks (146) with a .257 collective batting average, which remains in third overall. Team strikeout totals (218) are the second lowest in the league.

State College’s team ERA went up from last week’s 2.91 to 3.21, now ranked seventh in the league. The Spikes have also given up the most hits (307) but manages to keep their runs against on the lower side (136, 110 earned). The pitching staff has managed to keep the ball in the park, with just eight long balls all year - the fewest amount yielded in the NYPL.

 

New York-Penn League Pinckney Division Standings

1. State College Spikes (STL) [23-11]

2. Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) [20-14]

3. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [17-17]

4. Auburn Doubledays (WSH) [15-19]

5. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) [13-21]

6. Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) [7-27]

The Spikes lead the NYPL Pinckney Division for the fourth week in a row with a 23-11 record. Williamsport trails by three games, and for this week, State College holds onto a two game lead over Staten Island (21-13) to maintain the best record in the entire NYPL. 

 

Transactions

7/16 Gerwuins Velazco received from the Peoria Chiefs. Velazco pitched for 3 1/3 innings for the Spikes, yielding five hits and two walks in two appearances before his promotion to the Chiefs on June 22. However, the right-hander struggled at the higher level, giving up 15 hits, four walks and eight earned runs in just 10 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old Venezuelan did strike out five, but the Cardinals sent him back down to State College after being in Peoria for almost a full month. Velazco made his first appearance back in State College on Tuesday when he earned the win over the Spinners.

7/17 RHP Harley Holt received from the Peoria Chiefs. Holt posted a 2.12 ERA over 17 appearances for the Chiefs. Along with his 0-3 record, the Hawaii native did have a save, but had 23 strikeouts and just six walks.

7/17 INF Dylan Tice is promoted to the Peoria Chiefs. Tice had six doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI, hitting .281 with 25 hits, five walks and two stolen bases. Before his promotion, the 23-year-old spent most of his time at second or third, occasionally getting a spot in the lineup as the DH.

7/20 RHP Robby Rowland completes his Minor League rehab assignment. Rowland was reinstated from a seven day DL at Springfield (Double-A) and was transferred to Palm Beach (Advanced-A). The 24-year-old made three relief appearances for State College, with four innings pitched and two runs allowed (4.50). Rowland yielded three hits and one walk, but struck out five before continuing on to Palm Beach.

7/22 INF Jose Martinez is promoted to the Peoria Chiefs. The 19-year-old started in 26 of the Spikes 33 games so far, becoming a key element to the defense as a shortstop with impressive range and skills, and recorded six errors.  Martinez tallied 27 hits, one home run and nine RBI, heading up to the Chiefs with a .276 batting average. The switch hitter walked 13 times and struck out 12, and was caught stealing in all four tries.

 

Injuries

Danny Martin has been sidelined with a right leg injury since the conclusion of the three game series in West Virginia back in June. The second baseman has been taking the injury on a day-to-day basis, but has gone almost 25 games without any time in the infield. However, the Spikes report that Martin is getting closer to a full recovery and could be expected to start again in the near future.

 

Up Next

The Spikes will round out the week with their final game against Auburn at home on Saturday before heading on the road for a three game series against the Batavia Muckdogs. State College will then get a day of rest before traveling to Williamsport for a single game and close out the week at home against the Crosscutters on Friday.

Follow Kara Duriez on Twitter @KaraDuriez.

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