STATE?COLLEGE - A good time to play one of your best games of the season is when your boss is in town. Friday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the State College Spikes did just that.
Putting together one of their best efforts of the season while Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly was looking on, the Spikes defeated the Jamestown Jammers, 3-1, before 4,706 fans.
Although he didn't figure in the decision one way or the other, Spikes starting pitcher Colton Cain threw an outstanding four innings, allowing no runs and no hits, walking one and striking out a pair.
"I was sitting around 65 pitches so they decided to take me out," Cain said. "I think I had five more (pitches left) so it is up to me to go as far as I can go as long as I stay under that count."
Jamestown's Marcel Ozuna is one of the top hitters in the league, but Cain handled him with ease on a routine fly to left before having him totally off balance en route to a strikeout in the fourth.
"We know he likes fastballs and he likes to get his hands extended," Cain said. "I started him with off-speed early followed by a fastball, hard in and then I got him to chase a breaking ball. Any time we can take the series lead it is a good win for us."
Held to just a pair of singles over the first two innings, the Spikes took the initial lead in the game as they banged out four hits and they did the damage with two outs.
Cole White barreled an Adam Veres fastball for a solo home run, Drew Maggi followed with a double and Mel Rojas Jr. chased Maggi home with a sharp single to center. Not to satisfied with two runs, the Spikes upped their lead to 3-0 when Santos singled off the third baseman's glove into short left field to plate Rojas with the third run.
"On my first at-bat, I sort of committed to swinging at a pitch before I even saw it," White explained. "On my second at-bat, I wanted to be more patient so I let a first-pitch fastball go and at that point with nobody on, I was looking to drive something. I was hunting a fastball and he threw me a first-pitch fastball, but I let it go. The next pitch was at the same spot, I saw it up, was nice and patient and was able to put a good swing on it."
White's home run was the first run of the game for the Spikes, but what it did was jump-start the next three hitters who all came up with base hits in a three-run fifth inning.
"I feel real good at the plate and I was glad to be the spark to get us going," White said. "Off the bat, I knew it was gone. There was no doubt about it. My only question was if it was going to wrap around the foul pole. I knew it was going to go a long ways. They always say that hitting is contagious and I am just glad I was able to spark our hitting to get us going."
Trailing 3-0, the Jammers got on the board in the seventh with a single run. Ryan Fisher singled to center, went to second on a wild pitch by Kevin Decker, advanced to third on a ground out and scampered home on an infield hit to deep third by Noah Perio.
Kevin Decker, who worked four straight innings in relief of Cain, picked up the win. Jhonathon Ramos worked the ninth to pick up the save, his second of the season.
The homestand will continue tonight when the Spikes welcome the Mahoning Valley Scrappers to the ball park. State College will send Zac Fuesser (0-2) to the hill, while the Scrappers will counter with Casey Gaynor (4-2).