STATE COLLEGE - The Spikes struggled to do much of anything well Tuesday night - most notably provide run support for a quality start.
Maurice Bankston allowed just four hits and one run while walking none in five innings of work, but still took the loss as the State College Spikes fell 4-0 to the visiting Aberdeen Ironbirds.
The Spikes managed a paltry three-hit performance offensively, but perhaps did more self-inflicted damage in the field. The home team committed four errors for the second time in nine days - the Spikes also registered four official miscues in a July 26 contest against Batavia - and failed to take advantage of the few scoring opportunities that the Ironbirds presented to them.
Sentinel photo by CHRISTOPHER?SHANNON
State College shortstop Andy Vasquez tags out an Aberdeen base runner attempting to steal second during the Spikes’ game against the Ironbirds Tuesday. The Spikes lost 4-0.
The best chance to get on the board for State College didn't come until the eighth inning, when a pair of walks and an infield single by David Rubenstein - who had two of the three State College hits - loaded the bases with two out. But Pat Irvine could only manage to tap one toward Aberdeen shortstop Garabez Rosa to end the inning empty-handed.
But before the last best chance by the Spikes, Bankston had done his job - although not without a rough beginning to the game.
Aberdeen's T.J. Baxter laced the fourth pitch of the game to the famed "Nook" - the 410-foot section of the ballpark in left-center field - and ended up on third with a triple. He scored when Buck Britton grounded to first base to make it 1-0 Ironbirds.
And that's the way it stayed for a while. Bankston settled down and even managed to escape some trouble in the fourth inning. Brian Conley's single put two runners on with one out before Bankston struck out Steve Bumbry and later got Jason Rook to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice. He didn't allow another base runner in his final two frames.
Bankston was out-dueled by Aberdeen starter Jake Cowan, who held State College hitless until the fourth when Rubenstein laced a two-out book-rule double that was just inside the left field line. But he was stranded there when Irvine flew to right field to end the frame.
The only hit by someone other than Rubenstein came when Ty Summerlin singled to center in the sixth, just before a strong rain shower moved in and halted the game for 27 minutes.
Aberdeen got a trio of insurance runs in the eighth, aided by a pair of State College errors, one by pitcher Michael Felix and the other by the second baseman Summerlin as well as a wild pitch. The Ironbirds did not get a single hit in the inning and the only RBI came on a Conley sacrifice fly.
The loss puts State College back to .500 with a 23-23 record, but the Spikes have been shut out in two of their last three games. That prompted a lengthy closed-door meeting after the game, making manager Gary Robinson unavailable for comment by press time.
State College will face Aberdeen again at 7:05 tonight when Phillip Irwin (1-0, 0.45 ERA) will face the Ironbirds' Nicholas Haughian (0-4, 2.36).