STATE COLLEGE - Gift Ngoepe and Gerlis Rodriguez each provided clutch home runs, and the State College Spikes came from behind to defeat the Williamsport Crosscutters, 5-4, on Friday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park thanks to an error in the bottom of the ninth.
Kyle Saukko scored the game-winning run for State College (8-7) after lining a two-out single to left field. After Ngoepe was walked on an intentional ball four, Walker Gourley chopped a grounder which Williamsport (7-8) first baseman Jeff Cusick erred upon, scoring Saukko to end the game.
The Spikes' scoring started in the third inning, when Ngoepe mashed his first home run of the season, a two-run blast to left-center field. Rodriguez then hit a solo homer to right field in the bottom of the eighth to knot the game, 4-4, and set up State College's ninth-inning heroics.
Ngoepe finished the game 3-for-4, notching a pair of singles to go with his round-tripper. Rodriguez also drove in a run with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly, while Matt Skirving joined Saukko in going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Justin Ennis (2-0) picked up the win with a scoreless ninth inning, walking one and striking out two. Spikes starter Tyler Waldron went five innings in a no-decision and allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits while striking out three.
Williamsport reliever Siulman Lebron (0-1) took the loss after allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits and two walk over three-and-two-thirds innings. Lebron and 'Cutters starter Mario Hollands combined to strike out 14 Spikes batters, a season high for a State College opponent. Hollands allowed two runs on four hits in five innings of work.
Saturday, the Spikes and Crosscutters tangle in the final game of their three-game series, as the scene shifts to Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport. State College will send right-hander Zack Von Rosenberg (0-3) to the mound. Von Rosenberg, the Pirates' sixth-round draft choice in 2009, started Opening Night on the road against the 'Cutters a little over two weeks ago. The Crosscutters will counter with right-hander Julio Rodriguez (1-1), who earned the win over Von Rosenberg on that Opening Night. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Fans can catch all of the action on the Spikes Radio Network and flagship station 95.3 FM 3WZ starting at 6:50 p.m. with the Spikes GameDay Show live from Historic Bowman Field.