After a difficult 5-1 loss to Williamsport last Saturday, the Spikes bounced back with five straight wins, sweeping West Virginia at home and taking two on the road from Auburn. State College however ended the week with a loss against the Doubledays, dropping the 9-0 decision to close the 5-2 stretch.
Saturday’s game was a tough loss after leaving eight runners in scoring position. But manager Johnny Rodriguez did not attribute the loss to a lack of energy. “This is just the way they play. They’re such an even keel team, you don’t know if they’re up or they’re down...and I don’t want to change that because that’s who they are,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve got a slow heartbeat..but slow heartbeat teams go a long way. We have quiet games... that’s just who we are.”
Even though the loss prevented the Spikes from sweeping Williamsport, currently ranked second in the NYPL Pinckney Division, it clearly did not affect their ability to score runs the rest of the week. However, losing two starting rotation pitchers to promotion might have a bigger effect on the future. “I have hope in this team, no matter who they take. We just have to keep grinding. We kind of have to regroup this team again. Not because of the loss, but because of who we’re losing.”
To read more about the two pitchers who were promoted this week and Johnny Rodriguez’s thoughts, please refer to the transactions section.
Saturday, July 30th: Williamsport Crosscutters 5 at State College Spikes 1
After the Crosscutters took a 4-0 lead in the first against starter Bryan Dobzanski, the Spikes struggled to come back from the deficit and suffered the 5-1 loss.
A leadoff home run from Tommy Edman in the bottom of the first was just what the Spikes needed after a rough half inning in the field, but the solo shot did not spark any other scoring. Andy Young produced two of the other five hits, but the Spikes struggled to get hits with runners on base
“We left eight guys on base and all eight were in scoring position. I’ve never seen that. Wow,” manager Johnny Rodriguez said. “They made good pitches and we hit some balls hard but they didn’t land in our favor. We had more than plenty of chances, but just didn’t the big hit.”
Dobzanski took the loss after yielding all five of the Crosscutters runs, allowing seven hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings. Four runs came in the first inning.
“One-nothing game, two outs, bases loaded, you can’t just heave a fast ball. That’s the one pitch that can hurt you. That was the game, pretty much,” Rodriguez said. “We had plenty of chances, but from that point on it was an uphill climb.”
After the damage was already done, Spencer Trayner pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. Gerwuins Velazco tossed two and Eric Carter took the ninth. The three combined for eight strikeouts.
WP: Irvin, Cole (2-1, 1.45)
LP: Dobzanski, Bryan (3-4, 3.83)
Sunday, July 31st: State College Spikes 5, West Virginia Black Bears 3
State College bounced back from Saturday’s loss on its “Paint the Park Pink” night for breast cancer awareness, taking the 5-3 decision. The Spikes outhit the Black Bears seven to six, and took advantage of one error.
Elier Rodriguez led the offense with a line drive stand up double to right with bases loaded, scoring three. That gave the Spikes a 4-3 after trailing by two in the third. Ricardo Bautista and Danny Hudzina powered back-to-back doubles that slammed into the outfield wall.
Harley Holt was a late decision to start after it was announced that Dewin Perez would not. Holt pitched three innings, yielding all three of the Black Bears’ runs and five hits, including a two run home run. Bob Wheatley earned the win after tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two walks, no hits, one hit batter and one strikeout. Brady Bowen followed with 2 2/3 quiet innings, and Eric Carter earned the save with a 1-2-3 final inning. The bullpen-led victory displayed the versatility of the Spikes’ staff.
WP: Wheatley, Bob (3-0, 0.50)
LP: Marvel, James (3-5, 4.40)
SV: Carter, Eric (5)
Monday, August 1st: State College Spikes 2, West Virginia Black Bears 1
The Spikes’ 2-1 victory over the Black Bears was highlighted by timely hitting from the offense and an impressive first start from right handed pitcher Jordan Hicks, who joined State College from Johnson City.
State College's offense notched just two runs, the first coming in the third inning when Andy Young doubled to score Anthony Ray from first. Ray reached safely again in the fifth, this time on a bunt single. An error moved him to second and Vince Jackson brought him in later in the inning with an RBI ground out to the right side.
Hicks earned the win after throwing six solid innings, walking four and striking out three, and yielding just four hits and one unearned run in the sixth. Max Almonte followed with two scoreless innings, while striking out two. Spencer Trayner earned the save after forcing two ground outs and striking out his final batter in the ninth, to secure the 2-1 victory.
WP: Hicks, Jordan (1-0, 0.00)
LP: Beddes, Danny (3-2, 2.32)
SV: Trayner, Spencer (2)
Tuesday, August 2nd: State College Spikes 5, West Virginia Black Bears 4 (11 innings)
State College’s extra innings contest with West Virginia ended up in the Spikes' favor after 11 innings, with a walk off win in front of a home crowd to become the first team in the New York-Penn League to reach 30 wins this season. The 5-4 victory meant a series sweep, as the Spikes went to 6-0 against the Black Bears this year.
Although West Virginia outhit the Spikes 12 to 10, State College found a way to get timely run scoring shots when needed. Ricardo Bautista homered in the seventh to bring in one, in addition to Andy Young, Ryan McCarvel and Jeremy Martinez who all notched one apiece in the RBI column. Riley Drongesen was the game changer however, with his walk off RBI fly ball double to right field in the 11th, after being brought in to play right field in the 10th. Elier Rodriguez scored on the hit.
Carson Cross started, allowing six hits, including one home run, two walks and two runs over seven innings. Cross struck out six after throwing 88 pitches, 62 for strikes. Gerwuins Velazco threw two innings in relief, but was marked with a blown save after yielding four hits and two runs to give up the lead. Jhonatan Escudero earned the win after pitching the final two, striking out four in 38 pitches, 24 for strikes.
WP: Escudero, Jonathan (1-0, 0.00)
LP: Hightower, Scooter (2-3, 2.36)
Wednesday, August 3rd: State College Spikes 8 at Auburn Doubledays 3
The Spikes switched things up to start the night in their first game against Auburn, starting Danny Martin in left field and Elier Rodriguez at third, two typical starters but not in those positions. The switch up seemed to energize State College, allowing them to surge on offense with 11 hits and take the 8-3 decision.
Vince Jackson (3-for-5) led the team with four RBI on three hits, including two run scoring doubles. Jackson capped his fantastic night with a diving catch in center in the fifth, robbing the Doubledays of a big hit. Rodriguez, Martin, and Ricardo Bautista (2-for-4) all posted singles to bring in one run apiece. Bautista also tripled on a deep fly ball to right field, and Tommy Edman and Andy Young also both went 2-for-4 on the night. Young capped the scoring in the ninth after scoring on Ryan McCarvel’s fielder’s choice double play.
Steven Farinaro started, shining for 7 2/3 innings to earn his sixth win this season. The 20-year-old yielded nine hits and three runs, but walked none and struck out three. The right hander tossed 90 pitches, 65 for strikes, before Jordan DeLorenzo took over in the eighth. DeLorenzo struck out two and allowed one hit in his 1 ? innings.
WP: Farinaro, Steven (6-0, 4.61)
LP: Bogucki, A.J. (0-4, 14.40)
Thursday, August 4th: State College Spikes 5 at Auburn Doubledays 3
The Spikes took the 5-3 decision over the Doubledays, after leading 4-0 following their first at bat.
Tommy Edman led off with a triple off the top of the right field wall. Andy Young (1-for-3) reached first after being hit by a pitch and went on to score on Auburn’s throwing error. Vince Jackson’s single and Jeremy Martinez’s (2-for-4) double both brought in a run. Danny Hudzina notched the fourth run of the drive with an RBI groundout. The Spikes final run came in the sixth when Mick Fennell reached base on an error and scored on Edman’s fielder’s choice.
Right hander Bryan Dobzanski started and tossed six innings, allowing two runs on four hits, three walks and one strikeout. Dobzanski threw 94 pitches, 61 for strikes, before Spencer Trayner replaced him to start the seventh. Trayner gave up two hits, including one home run over two innings. Brady Bowen retired the side in the ninth to earn the save, his fifth this season.
WP: Dobzanski, Bryan (4-4, 3.73)
LP: Davis, Weston (2-3, 2.65)
SV: Bowen, Brady (5)
Friday, August 5th: State College Spikes 0 at Auburn Doubledays 9
State College closed out the week with 9-0 loss to Auburn. The large deficit was due to a lack of offense and five errors from the Spikes that gave the Doubledays plenty of extra base runners.
The Spikes’ offense was extremely quiet and unable to score any runs on their combined five hits. Tommy Edman, Ryan McCarvel, Elier Rodriguez, Ricardo Bautista and Anthony Ray all singled on the night, but could not get any rallies going.
Dewin Perez started and took the loss after yielding six runs, three earned, on five hits and four walks in five innings. Max Almonte threw 2 1/3 innings in relief, allowing three runs, two earned, and four hits. Tomchick retired the final two batters in the ninth.
WP: Acevedo, Carlos (2-3, 3.06)
LP: Perez, Dewin (2-3, 3.16)
Steven Farinaro. Farinaro finds his way onto the hot list for the second week in a row, now tied for first in the league in wins, sitting at a perfect 6-0 record. The right hander notched his sixth win this week in the Spikes’ 8-3 victory over Auburn. In his ninth start of the season, the 20-year-old gave up nine hits and three runs, but struck out three and kept the Doubledays offense quiet enough so his team could tally up eight runs. Although his ERA is relatively high for a starter (4.61), the fact that has six wins proves that he can hold his own against just about any opponent.
Vince Jackson. Although Jackson was not hot last week, he picked up the pace this week. The outfielder went 6-for-26 with six RBI, a walk and two stolen bases. In particular, his three hit performance Wednesday night brought in four runs, leading the team to a victory over the Doubledays. Jackson also leads the league in games played (45) and at bats (169), showing his consistent role in the Spikes’ lineup.
Tommy Edman. Edman was hot last week for the same reason he is this week - the shortstop notched a solo home run and continues to be a huge contributor in hits and RBI from the leadoff spot. The 21-year-old had very few bad days, going 7-for-24 with two RBI, three walks and two stolen bases. The Stanford product leads the league in runs scored (39) and ranks second in walks (29). Edman has also reached base for 19 straight games.
Andy Young. Young has recorded at least one hit in every game he has played this week, going 8-for-24 (.333) with two RBI, four walks and a stolen base. The second baseman has found himself in a role similar to Edman’s - get on base any way possible so that power hitters can move him around the base paths, and it seems to be working. Young also made a fantastic diving play on Saturday, sprinting into shallow left field to lay out to full extension for a pop fly that would have dropped in for a base hit.
Ryan McCarvel. The catcher/first baseman went 2-for-23 this week with one RBI, while striking out five times. His low numbers are not typical of the power hitter, but the slump has not been helping his team’s offense. The recent struggles have brought his batting average down from .245 to .214.
Bryan Dobzanski. Although Dobzanski got the win on Thursday night to improve his record to 4-4, his role in the team’s loss on Saturday cannot be ignored. The right hander took the loss after yielding all five of the Crosscutters runs, allowing seven hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings. Manager Johnny Rodriguez was not unhappy with Dobzanski’s “stuff”, citing that his spins were fine but he got in trouble because his locations were off. The New Jersey native yielded seven runs in his two starts this week.
Danny Martin. The infielder had a rough week at the plate, but perhaps it is due to rust. After being injured for over a month, Martin has only seen the field four times since his recovery. In his three starts this week, the Las Vegas native went 2-for-10 with one strikeout, seemingly finding it hard to find the holes in opponent’s defense to get on base. Though despite his slow start back, Martin will look to find his groove again in the near future.
Something to forget
Although there were only two errors recorded officially on Saturday, both throwing errors from Riley Drongesen and Bryan Dobzanski, the defense looked much sloppier than usual. There were at least five plays on defense (both throwing and fielding) that arguably should have been counted as errors, but were generously scored as base hits for the ‘Cutters. Even though there were some problems with rain that picked up in the fifth inning, the weather was no excuse for how the defense played. Failing to field simple ground balls/bunts in the field and missing easy throws should not be a recurring problem. Mistakes will happen, but not that much, especially in a single game. Luckily, the Spikes seemed to regroup and pick it back up for a majority of the rest of the week
Something to remember
The team hosted their “Paint the Park Pink” night on Sunday against West Virginia, raising funds and awareness for breast cancer research. The night was made even more memorable thanks to State College’s special pink cheetah print jerseys that were auctioned off during the game. The Spikes ended up raising over $4,500 towards the cause in the auction.
To read more about the “Paint the Park Pink” night, follow this link:
The Spikes rank second in the 12-team league in doubles (86), hits, RBI and runs, behind Tri-City in all three categories. State College’s offense also ranks lowest in times caught stealing (10) and second lowest in strikeouts.
The pitching staff leads the league in saves (16), and is fifth in ERA (3.09). State College has however given up 403 hits, the second highest of any team. The staff needs to work on its strikeout totals, with just 302, third lowest in the league. They have issued the fourth-fewest walks, at 139.
New York-Penn League Pinckney Standings
1. State College Spikes (STL) [32-15]
2. Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) [28-19]
3. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) [22-24]
4. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [20-27]
4. Auburn Doubledays (WSH) [20-27]
6. Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) [11-36]
State College has a four game lead over Williamsport in the Pinckney Division. The Spikes also lead the entire NYPL, becoming the first team to reach 30 wins so far this season.
7/31 RHP Ronnie Williams promoted to Peoria Chiefs (Single-A). Rated St. Louis’ 27th-best prospect by The Cardinal Nation, Williams’s promotion comes as no surprise. The right-hander tied two single-game Spikes’ records back in June, 10 strikeouts and eight innings pitched. Overall, the Cardinals’ 2014 second round draft pick went 4-2 over seven starts, posting a 2.72 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. The 20-year-old gave up 37 hits but only 17 runs, 14 earned, and seven walks this season.
7/31 LHP John Kilichowski promoted to Peoria Chiefs. The Vanderbilt product went 1-1 with a 0.92 ERA over five appearances, four of them starts. Kilichowski tallied 20 strikeouts over 19 2/3 innings, yielding 15 hits and four runs, two earned. The Cardinals 2016 11th round draft pick made his first start on July 2nd against Mahoning Valley, tossing the first three innings and striking out five. Kilichowski continued on in a starting role for the rest of July. Although minor fatigue problems mid-July kept him from starting in a game, Kilichowski bounced quickly before his promotion to the Midwest League.
7/31 RHP Jordan Hicks received from Johnson City (rookie level). The supplemental third-round draft choice of the Cardinals in 2015 went 2-1 with a 4.20 ERA over six Appalachian League starts. The 19-year-old posted a 2.03 ERA in his first five outings, in addition to three quality starts of six innings or more, yielding three earned runs or less. Hicks made his first start for the Spikes on Monday, earning the win 2-1 victory over West Virginia. The Houston native pitched six innings, allowing one run, unearned, on four hits and four walks, while striking out three.
8/4 LHP Bob Wheatley promoted to Peoria Chiefs. Wheatley went 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA in nine relief appearances, in addition to earning one save. The 24-year-old yielded 18 hits, seven walks and five runs, one earned, over 18 innings pitched. The Villa Park, California native struck out 14 before his promotion Thursday.
8/5 RHP Greg Tomchick received from Johnson City. Tomchick started out the year in State College, but was sent down to the rookie level Cardinals on July 28th after posting a 8.44 ERA, allowing 10 runs in 10 2/3 innings and nine game appearances. The 23-year-old went 1-1 in Johnson City with a 4.15 ERA over 4 1/3 innings in relief. Tomchick now returns to the Spikes bullpen just eight days after he was first sent to JC.
Manager Reflects on Losing Two Starters
Spikes Manager Johnny Rodriguez seemed surprised at the news of losing two of his most important starters on the same day. However, Rodriguez made it clear that his team is used to multiple moves.
“This is what it’s all about at this level. Get ‘em good, get ‘em going, that’s the way it works. But those are two huge losses,” Rodriguez said. “Ronnie Williams was our anchor and John Kilichowski was, to me, a hard worker. Every time he was out there he was giving it his all.”
Losing both Williams and Kilichowski to Peoria will have a significant impact on the Spikes’ starting rotation, but Rodriguez remains confident in his staff moving forward.
“We have a solid bullpen. I’m hoping we get a few starts in here, because I don’t want to touch that bullpen.”
Prospect right hander Jordan Hicks was brought up from Johnson City and made his first start on Monday. However, Rodriguez said that he would like to gain at least one more starter to help fill the big shoes of Williams and Kilichowski.
State College will travel to Vermont for a three game series with Lake Monsters to start the week, and return home to host the West Virginia Black Bears. The Spikes will close out the week by starting their home series with the Staten Island Yankees.
Follow Kara Duriez on Twitter @KaraDuriez.
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