UNIVERSITY PARK - Perhaps it was the cooler air or maybe the pink bats they used. Whatever the reason, the Spikes' offense came alive after back-to-back nights of lackluster performances.
State College bettered their combined hit total of the first two games of their three-game stretch against Aberdeen and took a 9-5 win over the Ironbirds, Thursday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
It was "Paint the Stadium Pink Day" for State College, supporting breast cancer awareness and the Spikes did not disappoint the 4,047 in attendance, taking their last game against the Ironbirds.
The win evens State College's record at 24-24 on the year, yet only improves its record outside of the New York-Penn League's Pickney Division to a meager 2-10.
It was clear early on in the game that the Spikes had come to swing the bats. State College opened the bottom of the first inning tallying four hits to help them jump out to a quick 3-0 lead.
Evan Chambers cracked the scoreboard, belting a double to left field and bringing leadoff man Brock Holt across the plate. Two batters later, Aaron Baker tripled to almost the same spot, plating Chambers and Pat Irvine followed with an RBI single to left center.
"We did an outstanding job of changing our approach tonight," Spikes manager Gary Robinson said. "They pitched about the same mix, but we told our guys to focus on hunting fast balls and we were able to grab the early momentum."
However, as quickly as they had grabbed that momentum, it appeared the Spikes had regressed to some of their mistakes that were common earlier in the series.
Two errors and a walk with two outs allowed Aberdeen to cut the lead to 3-2 on only one hit. State College went three-and-out in the bottom of the second and the Ironbirds took advantage.
Brian Conley started things in the top of the third doubling and setting up a two-out RBI single by Tom Edwards that tied the game at 3. It was at this point the Spikes grabbed the momentum of the game for good.
The key factor in this was the performance of left handed pitcher Tyler Cox, who came in to start the top of the fourth and nearly went six full innings without surrendering a run. While he kept the Ironbirds' bats in check, the Spikes were able to retake control of the game.
"Coxy had a great night," Robinson said. "He is one of our piggy back guys, he can be a starter, but sometimes we will bring him in like we did tonight later on in the game. He did great and he did it when we needed it most."
Aaron Baker returned the lead to State College, doubling to left center in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring Chambers and giving the home team a 4-3 advantage. Baker finished the game 2 for 5 with a triple, a double and two RBIs.
In the sixth, Butch Biela reached on an error and scored as Holt notched his first of two sacrifice flies, providing Cox with some much-needed security on the mound. State College went 1-2-3 in the seventh with three strikeouts, but the eighth inning that had been so unkind to the home team in the first two games of the series, saw the Spikes blow the game wide open.
Holt notched his second sacrifice fly and Chambers launched a three run home run over the wall left field to erase any doubt. Chambers finished 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs.
"These guys just don't like to lose, that has not changed since Day 1," Robinson said. "I really believe in them and I think that they may be starting to believe in themselves."
The Spikes will look to carry the momentum of the win on a three-game road trip to Hudson Valley, beginning at 7:05 p.m. tonight.