UNIVERSITY PARK - For the first seven innings of Wednesday night's game between State College and Williamsport, things looked good for the Spikes as they held a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead.
But then it happened as the visitors exploded for eight runs over the final two innings to post a come-from-behind 9-5 win over the Spikes.
"It (the game) just got out of control," said Spikes manager Gary Robinson. "I think we got into a panic mode again which is unusual for us of late. I think we let the game speed up on us at that point and we weren't able to slow it down. It (the loss) is unfortunate, but we are still learning."
Even though they didn't score much until late in the game, Williamsport manager Chris Truby liked the way the game started.
"We started the game off well," said Truby. "We swung the bats well in the first inning and I though we would be able to take off and go from there but it didn't happen that way."
The Cutters drew first blood in the first inning when Cesar Hernandez led off with a single to right, stole second and scored on Miguel Alvarez's RBI single to left.
Held without a hit through the first two innings, the Spikes' bats exploded in the third as they barreled the ball for four hits, none of the 'cheap' variety. Most of the damage with the bats was done by the bottom of the lineup where Pat Irvine, Matt Dkirving and Cole White combined for four hits in five trips to the plate.
Irvine led off with a single to center and Skirving followed with a shot to center, Irvine moving to second.
White plated both Irvine and Skirving with a two-run double to right base of the right field fence and one out later, Gift Ngoepe chased White home with a triple to deep centerfield.
"Cole is starting to get it," said Robinson. "Irvine has always been able to hit. He just needed some at-bats because he didn't get very many in West Virginia. I am not distraught and we are still teaching. All we are talking about is to stay out of the panic mode."
Not to sit around and wait for things to come to them, the Spikes added on in the fifth inning when they scored a run to go up 4-1. White led off with a sharp single to center, stole second and scored on a single to center by Mel Rojas Jr.
Not only did the Spikes hit the ball well, they also played outstanding defense through the middle of the game as they retired all 12 Crosscutter batters in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
But here come the Cutters as their bats came alive in the eighth to put together five hits and a pair of walks to score a half dozen runs for a 7-4 lead.
"If we don't walk the nine hitter twice which I don't like because in baseball because that is taboo," said Robinson. "If we make a couple of pitches instead of throwing them in there waist high, we could have at least damage controlled the eighth. But we walked the leadoff hitter again in the ninth and they get two more. We talked to the pitchers about it and they'll get better."
Down, but but certainly not out, here come the Cutters.
"They (the bats) woke up when they had to," said Truby. "We were able to string together some good at-bats and then in the last inning, we got some help from them for a couple of insurance runs."
Now trailing by three, the Spikes cut a run of their deficit in the eighth. Matt Curry led off with a ground single to right and two outs later, Curry scored on a RBI double by Irvine. However, it proved to be too little, too late and the 9-5 loss was in the books.
The two runs they scored in the ninth didn't have to score," said Robinson. "We don't know if they score or not because we didn't get a chance to pitch out of it (the jam). We never got that chance because of two throws, neither of which should have been made. If the throws aren't made, the worst case scenario is that it is still second and third, but we get an out. Now we would have had a chance to pitch a little bit, and even if he gets on, we still have a chance to get out of it."
The same two teams will do it again tonight with a single game beginning at 7:05 p.m. Zac Fuesser (0-1) will get the start for the Spikes, while the Crosscutters will counter with Mario Hollands (3-1).