After losing to Mahoning Valley at the beginning of the week, the State College Spikes had two games left in the regular season and was expecting to become the number two seed for the semifinals. But after sweeping Williamsport with a new record setting crowd and wins record, the Spikes finished as the number one seed.
Following a day off to prepare and travel to New York, the Spikes took game one from Staten Island while in New York. When the Yankees took game two 3-2 in extra innings in State College on Thursday, with the third game on Friday night determining who advanced to the championship.
A nail-biting 6-5 decision in favor of State College gave the Spikes a 2 to 1 series victory and a chance to win the 2016 New York-Penn League Championship next week.
After the semifinal victory, designated hitter Ryan McCarvel said it best. “We’ve been grinding all year. A lot of us are tired but we’re not ready to give up,” he said. “It feels good coming off a win like this, but we’re just going to keep trying to play Spikes baseball.”
Manager Johnny Rodriguez said he knows what “Spikes baseball” is really all about. “It’s like I’ve been saying since the beginning, they’re grinders. They deserved this,” Rodriguez said. “A team like Staten Island, as good as they are, they’re going to test you to your limits, and they did.”
“Hudson Valley is the almost the same team as Staten Island, but Staten Island may even have more power. I know this club can handle it,” Rodriguez continued. “We’ve been tested and we made it this far, so I only see positive things in the future.”
Saturday, September 3rd: State College Spikes 0 at Mahoning Valley Scrappers 3
State College started off the week with a 3-0 loss to Mahoning Valley. The loss, paired with Hudson Valley’s victory, seemed to put the Spikes in line for the second seed in NYPL playoffs.
The Spikes failed to score on five hits, despite three doubles, one each from Anthony Ray, Riley Drongesen and Ryan McCarvel. Yariel Gonzalez produced two singles, but his hot night at the plate did not amount to any runs.
Carson Cross tossed six innings in the start, giving up three runs, two earned, on four hits and three walks. Cross struck out six, but took the loss after Mahoning Valley took a 3-0 lead in the second. Jonathan Escudero pitched the final two Scrappers’ at-bats, yielding one hit and one walk while striking out three.
WP: Colegate, Ryan (6-2, 3.22)
LP: Cross, Carson (5-6, 3.24)
SV: Letkewicz, Michael (4)
Sunday, September 4th: State College Spikes 3, Williamsport Crosscutters 2
The Spikes 3-2 victory over Williamsport not only marked the last home game of the regular season, but State College also notched a franchise single season record of 49 wins, in addition to welcoming a 6,111 person crowd, a new single-game attendance record for the club.
Despite two errors in the field and being out hit by the Crosscutters 10 to 7, the Spikes still managed to get the win. Vince Jackson doubled in the first and scored on Jeremy Martinez’s ground ball single to right field. Danny Hudzina also doubled, bringing Elier Rodriguez around the bases in the fifth, after reaching base on a walk. Martinez (2-for-4) also plated Tommy Edman in the eighth to break the 2-2 tie and take the win.
Steven Farinaro started, tossing 88 pitches, 58 for strikes, and seven strikeouts after six innings of work. Farinaro gave up eight hits, one walk and one unearned run. Gerwuins Velazco followed with two, taking both a blown save and the win after yielding just two hits, including one home run, while striking out three. Eric Carter earned the save after throwing the final inning, striking out two of three batters he faced.
WP: Velazco, Gerwuins (3-0, 3.38)
LP: Hallead, Tyler (4-4, 4.91)
SV: Carter, Eric (9)
Monday, September 5th: State College Spikes 4 at Williamsport Crosscutters 2
A 4-2 victory for the Spikes on Monday closed out the team’s regular season with a bang. The win gave State College the first seed in the NYPL Semifinals as well as the team’s 50th win of the season, making franchise history as the first team to accomplish such a feat.
Danny Hudzina (2-for-5) led the offense, hitting a three run home run to left field in the second and bringing in the Spikes’ fourth and final run with a line drive double in the third. Jeremy Martinez went 3-for-5 with a double and Elier Rodriguez singled. Tommy Edman, Ricardo Bautista and Vince Jackson all went 0-for-3, but all three walked two times apiece in patient at-bats.
Dewin Perez started, but gave up two runs on three hits and two walks and was taken out after 2 ? on the mound. Greg Tomchick allowed two hits and one walk over 2 ? innings of relief, while striking out two, to earn the win. Max Almonte followed with two innings, giving up just one hit while striking out three. Spencer Trayner tossed the final two, striking out one and yielding one hit to earn his fourth save of the season.
WP: Tomchick, Greg (1-1, 5.57)
LP: Garcia, Julian (0-3, 3.60)
SV: Trayner, Spencer (4)
Tuesday, September 6th: No game.
The Spikes had an off day following the conclusion of the regular season in preparation for their first playoff game on Wednesday.
Wednesday, September 7th: State College Spikes 3 at Staten Island Yankees 0 - Semifinals (Game 1)
The Spikes took game one of the NYPL Semifinals 3-0, shutting out Staten Island and holding them to just five hits. The road win gave State College a 1-0 advantage heading into game two of the best of three series.
Ryan McCarvel (1-for-4) put State College on the board right away, plating Vince Jackson on his ground ball single to right in the first inning. Andy Young (1-for-4) added two more with his two run home run in the third, plating Mick Fennell and himself. The long ball flew far over the left field fence and gave the Spikes a 3-0 lead they would not relinquish. Tommy Edman (1-for-4) also doubled for the Spikes.
Watch Young’s two run shot here: http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=1149039883&sid=t1174
Bryan Dobzanski and Jordan DeLorenzo worked together to shut out the Yankees, allowing a combined five hits. Dobzanski started and tossed six solid innings, yielding four hits and four walks while striking out two. DeLorenzo earned his first save of the season after throwing the final three, yielding just one hit. The Florida native struck out the all three batters in the ninth to close out the game, tallying a total of six K’s in the outing.
WP: Dobzanski, Bryan (4-6, 3.93)
LP: Mahoney, Kolton (4-4, 2.92)
SV: DeLorenzo, Jordan (1)
Thursday, September 8th: State College Spikes 2, Staten Island Yankees 3 (10 innings) Semifinals (Game 2)
State College’s 3-2 loss to Staten Island turned into a 3 hour and 13 minute extra innings showdown. After a 46 minute rain delay following the ninth inning, a Yankees homer broke the 2-2 tie to force a deciding game three on Friday.
Jordan Hicks threw 5 ? innings as the starter, yielding the first two Yankees’ runs on four hits and six walks, while striking out one. Max Almonte came on in relief and tossed 1 ? innings, giving up one hit and striking out one. Connor Jones followed with two scoreless innings, also yielding one hit and striking out one. Brady Bowen took the loss after giving up the final run in the 10th.
Staten Island kept the Spikes’ bats relatively quiet the entire game, until the ninth inning when Danny Hudzina singled and pinch hitter Yariel Gonzalez walked. Ryan McCarvel then pinch hit for Anthony Ray, hitting a long fly out to center that moved both Hudzina and Gonzalez up a base. Tommy Edman then came in clutch with a ground ball single to right, plating both Hudzina and Gonzalez on the drive to tie it up 2-2 and force extra innings.
However after the completion of the ninth inning, umpires decided the field was unplayable and a 46 minute rain delay ensued. After play resumed in the top of the 10th, Brady Bowen took the mound. On his second pitch, Yankees batter Drew Bridges smashed a solo shot far over the right field fence to take the 3-2 lead and eventually the win.
“Bowen’s a tough guy. Sometimes, they get to you and start hitting you. It’s all about how you battle through it,” manager Johnny Rodriguez said.
But Rodriguez did not blame the rain delay for the loss.
“Neither coach wanted to stop playing, but the field wasn’t safe enough to continue. It definitely stopped our momentum, but you can’t let that effect how you play,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t lose because of the rain, we just weren’t good enough. I’m not going to make any excuses for that loss.”
WP: Roeder, Josh (3-1, 3.38)
LP: Bowen, Brady (0-1, 9.00)
SV: Lane, Trevor (1)
Friday, September 9th: State College Spikes 6, Staten Island Yankees 5 - Semifinals (Game 3)
A back and forth game three battle between State College and Staten Island led to a neck and neck finish similar to Thursday night’s matchup. After nearly three and a half hours of play, the Spikes took the 6-5 decision, despite being out hit by Staten Island 10 to 7.
Andy Young (2-for-3) was a major contributor to the win with three runs batted in and one run scored. Tommy Edman (2-for-4) worked well in front of Young, scoring twice. State College took control of the game in the seventh while scoring four runs. Ryan McCarvel’s (1-for-4) home run to left field brought in two of the four.
“I was just trying to stay within myself and hit something far,” McCarvel said of his long ball.
Carson Cross started on the mound, tossing five innings and yielding four hits and two walks, but no runs, while striking out four. Gerwuins Velazco followed with 1 ? innings, but gave up two earned runs on two walks and one hit. Velazco struck out three. Eric Carter threw one inning, giving up three earned runs on four hits and a walk, but managed to earn the win after State College’s offense took the lead in the seventh. Brady Bowen closed the game with 1 ? scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out one.
“Today I thought they [Staten Island] played a tremendous game. They’re one of the best hitting teams we’ve faced,” Johnny Rodriguez said. “I thought they had an edge today after beating us yesterday and I tip my hat off to them. They earned it, we earned it. Somebody had to win; we were fortunate enough to have it go our way in a tough series.”
WP: Carter, Eric (2-0, 2.38)
LP: Martin, Chad (5-2, 3.12)
SV: Bowen, Brady (9)
Danny Hudzina. Hudzina started off the year rocky, with inconsistent hitting and silly mistakes in the field. But now, the third baseman has become an essential part to the lineup on defense and offense. This week Hudzina went 5-for-21 with two walks, a home run and five runs batted in. Although he may not seem like much of a threat batting eighth, this week especially Hudzina has continued to make solid contact with balls and generate runs from the bottom of the order.
Andy Young. Young started in every game this week, going 4-for-22, which isn’t that great of an average (.189) but the stats don’t represent the real impact the second baseman had. Young hit a two run home run on Wednesday, in addition to his three RBI night on Friday. The Indiana State University product only walked once and grounded out quite a few times, but a majority of his at-bats were productive. Although manager Johnny Rodriguez does not see Young as a “typical two-hole hitter,” Rodriguez said that “he can hit anybody and he’s got power.” He has certainly been doing his job; hitting the ball hard, getting on base and scoring others when his team needs him the most.
Ryan McCarvel. Although he hasn’t seen much time in the field, McCarvel’s bat makes him hot this week. Ranked second in the league in RBI (tied with teammate Vince Jackson at 45), McCarvel’s big moment came on Friday when he was in the lineup as the designated hitter. The California native’s two run home run smashed over the left field fence in the seventh became the difference between the Spikes win and loss in the close 6-5 decision. Although McCarvel can at times struggle to hit consistently, his clutch home run this week demonstrates his ability to bring the big hit when his team is counting on him.
Tommy Edman. Although Edman started off the week a little slower than usual, the shortstop picked up the pace at home against Staten Island. Edman’s two RBI single on Thursday night tied up the game at 2-2 to force extra innings and give the Spikes a solid come from behind chance. In Thursday's and Friday’s games, the Stanford product went 5-for-9 with two stolen bases, two RBI and two runs scored. His powerful bat in the lead off spot was imperative to the Spikes ultimately taking the series 2 to 1 over Staten Island. The shortstop also leads the league in runs scored (61) and walks (48).
Jordan DeLorenzo. DeLorenzo’s three inning relief performance was a good representation of what he brings to the Spikes bullpen. While Bryan Dobzanski took the win on Wednesday, DeLorenzo earned his first save this season. The Florida native gave up just one hit and struck out six, with no walks and no runs scored.
Jordan Hicks. Although Hicks is typically a consistent starter with a lot of spins, he struggled more than usual in his start on Thursday in game one of the semifinals. Hicks went 5 ? innings and only gave up four hits, but was pulled after yielding two runs and walking six. The high amount of walks is not typical of the 19-year-old, but he was not hitting his spots as well as he usually does against difficult offenses.
Dewin Perez. Perez has now become consistently bad, making the not hot list for three weeks in a row. The Columbia native started on Monday and went 2 ? innings before getting pulled, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks. Although the Spikes went on to win the game 4-2, Perez was responsible for the Crosscutters’ only two runs. He may not have done quite as badly as last week, but his performance this week became rough really early on.
Ricardo Bautista. Manager Johnny Rodriguez knows that Bautista has one of the best outfield arms in the NYPL and, probably for this reason, starts him often. However, Bautista consistently struggles at the plate, with a few occasional sparks of line drive hitting. This week, the right fielder struck out 10 times and recorded no RBI, while going 2-for-19 (.105).
During the pre-game ceremony of Sunday’s regular season home finale, the State College Spikes announced their 2016 team award winners in front of a 6,111 person crowd. Tommy Edman was named as the Spikes’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, while right-hander Steven Farinaro was earned the Pitcher of the Year honor. Danny Hudzina earned the Josiah Viera Perseverance Award, which was introduced back in 2014.
Read more about the Spikes’ team awards selections here: http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20160904&content_id=199481680&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_t1174&sid=t1174
Something to forget
After two and a half hours of game time and six innings of consistent rainfall, the umpires called a rain delay on Thursday just as the Spikes had tied up the score at 2-2. The 46 minute rain delay came right before the start of extra innings and ended up making the game 3 hours and 13 minutes. Though the rain delay did not necessarily cause the Spikes to lose, it couldn’t have been fun to play nearly an entire game in the rain and then have it delayed, pausing any positive momentum. The trouble with the rain, accompanied with the loss, are probably two things the Spikes’ would like to forget.
Something to remember
Monday night’s 4-2 victory marked the Spikes’ 50th win of the season, surpassing the 2013 and 2014 teams by two for the most wins in club history. State College was the only team in the New York-Penn League to reach 50 wins this season. A few weeks ago, Manager Johnny Rodriguez said that this 2016 team “deserved to have a 50 win season, because they have been grinding all year long.” The Spikes reached the feat just in time, writing win number 50 into the books on the Spikes home finale.
Team Stats - Regular Season - Final
State College finishes the regular season ranked first in runs, RBI and walks, while ranking second in hits and fourth in team batting average.
The Spikes rank second highest in hits allowed and fifth in team ERA, while ranking seventh in runs allowed. State College is also ranked third lowest in walks given up.
These statistics do not account for any playoff games or their results and reflect solely on the regular season.
New York-Penn League Pinckney Standings - Final
1. State College Spikes (STL) [50-26]
2. Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) [39-36]
3. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [38-38]
4. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) [37-38]
5. Auburn Doubledays (WSH) [28-47]
6. Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) [22-53]
State College took the top seed in the New York-Penn League playoffs after securing the best regular season record (50-26) and went up against the fourth seeded wild-card Staten Island. Second seeded Hudson Valley swept the third seeded Lowell Spinners in two games, allowing the Renegades to advance to the finals.
According to Manager Johnny Rodriguez, Ryan McCarvel has been struggling with a jammed thumb and will not see much time on the field during the remainder of the playoffs, but will continue to see opportunities as the designated hitter or as a pinch hitter. Danny Martin was listed as inactive on the Spikes playoff roster, facing issues with his leg injury from earlier this season.
State College is headed to the New York-Penn League Championship series. The Spikes are set to face the Hudson Valley Renegades as an opponent. Game one of the best of three series will be held on Sunday at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, New York, at 4:00 p.m. ET. State College will then return home to host game two at 7:05 p.m. on Monday and game three on Tuesday also at 7:05 p.m., if necessary.
Follow Kara Duriez on Twitter @KaraDuriez.
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