WILLIAMSPORT - If you like a lot of offense in your game of baseball, Bowman Field wasn't the place to be Friday night.
With neither team showing a base hit through 6-plus innings, Williamsport eventually grinded out a 1-0 win over the State College Spikes before 3,397 fans.
"It was a real tough game for us to lose, but you have to give them credit because their guys played well and our guys also played well," said Spikes' manager Gary Robinson. "We only gave up two hits and one run and I know the fans must have enjoyed that one."
Playing two tough games and losing both of them can sometimes take a toll on a team. However, in the Spikes case, Robinson doesn't see that as a problem with his club.
"I don't know if that will have an effect on us or not because that is baseball," he said. "Give them a lot of credit because Williamsport is a good ball club. These guys not only think they can win, they know they can. I think, or at least I hope they know, that they could have won either game. It comes down to who plays the game best on a particular evening and for the last two nights, they were just a tad better than we were. The team that does more things right in terms of how the game is played is the team that is going to win."
The tone of the game was set when the two starting pitchers - State College's Zac Fuesser and Williamsport's Mario Hollands - locked up in a hitless duel through four innings.
Fuesser worked four innings, not allowing a hit or a run while walking four and striking out four, while his counterpart, Hollands worked five, also not allowing a single hit or run, walking two and fanning five.
On the heels of Fuesser's strong starting effort, Mitch Finneman tossed a strong three innings, allowing the game's only run as a result of a pair of errors, but nothing else.
"I thought we pitched well tonight. Our stuff was good and we stayed down (in the strike zone)," said Robinson. "I thought (Fuesser) pitched well, but he walked four in four innings and when that happens, you usually find yourself giving up a run or two. However, (Fuesser) did a good job of damage control by keeping them off the board. It was just a well-pitched game by both clubs."
After 45 batters failed, the Spikes finally broke up the no-no with back-to-back singles by Pat Irvine and Cole White with two outs in the seventh inning. However, Bradley Blanks exercised some damage control of his own by fanning Miguel Mendez to end the inning.
With the game scoreless entering the seventh inning, the Cutters scored the run of the game and they did it without a hit. A walk to Jeff Lanning and errors by shortstop Gift Ngeope and second baseman Walker Gourley produced the game's first score.
Although he was tagged with the loss, Spikes' reliever Mitch Finneman probably deserved a better fate.
"We gave up a walk in the seventh and he did a (heck of a) job and should have been able to pitch his way through it," said Robinson. "He could have pitched his way right out of the dag gum thing, but the problem is that we just didn't catch the ball very well. If you take that one walk away, we might still be playing and that in no way takes anything away from Finneman's performance."
Setting the table can be an important factor in winning or losing a game, and the Spikes took a goose egg in that category.
"We didn't get a leadoff batter on base all night," Robinson said. "And when that happens, you aren't able to create a lot of things as far as offense is concerned."
For Williamsport, reliever Bradley Banks picked up the win for his only decision of the campaign thus far, while Chase Johnson hurled perfect eighth and ninth innings to record his tenth save of the season.
With the win, the Crosscutters take a 5-3 lead in the Sawbuck Series for 2010. The two teams will conclude the three-game set tonight with a single game at Medlar Field @ Lubrano Park. First pitch for that contest is set for 7:05 p.m.
The Spikes will send Tyler Waldron (2-2) to the bump, while the Cutters will counter with Craig Fritsch.