NILES, Ohio - The State College Spikes climbed back from an early 4-0 deficit to take the lead into the eighth inning, but the Mahoning Valley Scrappers struck for two runs in the bottom of the frame to deal the Spikes a 6-5 defeat on Thursday night at Eastwood Field.
State College (7-4) fell behind in the first inning when Mahoning Valley (4-7) first baseman Charlie Valerio doubled in a run to make it 1-0. The Spikes' deficit grew in the second inning when Jairo Kelly became the first Spikes opponent to hit a home run this season, driving a three-run shot to right field off of starter Jason Creasy.
However, State College came right back in the third inning with four runs off of Scrappers starter Geoffrey Davenport. The surge started when Rodarrick Jones delivered his first hit of the year with a ground-rule double to right field. Jodaneli Carvajal then dropped down a bunt and beat it out for a single, and after a passed ball scored Jones, D.J. Crumlich doubled to score Carvajal and make it a 4-2 game.
Chris Diaz brought in another run with a base hit to score Crumlich, then Ryan Hornback tied the game with a single to center field.
The Spikes then moved ahead in the fifth inning when Walker Gourley walked, moved to second on an errant pickoff throw and scored on David Valesente's RBI single. Valesente started his first game for the Spikes in 2012 as the designated hitter.
In the eighth inning, Mahoning Valley got the last response, though. Back-to-back singles off of State College reliever Tom Harlan (1-1) led off the inning, and Jeremy Lucas completed a 4-for-4 night with another single to center to tie the game. Joseph Wendle then gave the Scrappers a lead they would not relinquish with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to right.
Carvajal and Diaz had multi-hit performances for the Spikes on the evening.
Harlan took the loss after allowing both Mahoning Valley runs in the eighth inning. The left-hander yielded a total of six hits over two total innings while striking out two batters.
Scrappers reliever Enosil Tejeda (2-0) pitched the last two innings to get the victory. Tejeda allowed just one ninth-inning walk and struck out two batters in the winning effort.
Lucas doubled as part of his four-hit performance, while Kelly and Valerio rapped three hits apiece for Mahoning Valley.
The Spikes and Scrappers return to Eastwood Field on Friday for a 7:05 p.m. matchup in the second game of their three-game series. State College will send left-hander Joely Rodriguez (0-0) to the mound, while Mahoning Valley will go with right-hander Jake Sisco (0-1).