STATE COLLEGE - In most baseball games, there is usually at least one game changer. Saturday night in the game between State College and Williamsport, there were two.
Taking advantage of both situations, the Spikes, who spotted the Cutters a 2-0 lead, plated five unanswered runs for a 5-2 win at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The game was the quickest to be played before the largest crowd of the season, which also was Mifflin-Juniata night at the ballpark.
Sentinel photo by STEVE?MANUEL
State College Spikes’ Tyler Gaffney goes for a fly ball at the fence, robbing Williamsport’s Chris Serritella of a home run Saturday.
The first game changer came in the first inning when Spikes right fielder Tyler Gaffney went high above the boards in right field to rob Chris Serritella of what appeared to be a home run.
With Gaffney's great catch, the game remained scoreless instead of it being 2-0 Cutters.
"I really like the way the guys competed tonight," Spikes manager Dave Turgeon said. "Gaffney's great catch set the tempo and was a big spark plug for us. He comes to play, he is fun to watch and his catch was just unbelievable. When you talk about game changers, that catch set the tone, gave our pitcher a chance to take a deep breath to go out there and keep us in the game."
Scoreless through three innings, Crosscutter Larry Greene hit a bomb to center field, just to the right of the batter's eye on the center field fence, for the first run. The Cutters made it 2-0 in the fourth when Logan Moore led off with a double, went to third on a Greene single to right and scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Roman Quinn.
The Spikes tied the game in the fifth but it wasn't without a lot of controversy, brought about by the umpires' handling of a call when a ball bounced off the leg of Spikes batter Jodaneli Carvajal. The State College second baseman paused briefly as the batted ball rolled up the third-base line before taking off for first.
Home plate umpire Jeff Andrews signaled it was a fair ball. Base umpire Matt Moore made no motion at all. Williamsport pitched Delvin Perez bounced off the mound and calmly made the throw to first.
The two teams left the field as it appeared the third out had been made. That's when Turgeon came up the line toward home plate, the two umpires got together and the decision was reversed.
That brought Crosscutter manager Andy Tracy storming out of the dugout. Tracy's argument proved unfruitful, the Cutters returned to the field and the Spikes promptly scored a pair of runs to tie the game.
"That was a big play," Turgeon said. "(Thursday) a similar play went against us and it was done by the same (umpire)."
Tracy wasn't necessarily upset about the call that was made, but rather the manner in which things transpired to get the proper call in place.
"I just didn't like the fact that we already left the field, the play was already called, Turgeon went up and talked with them, they came together and then they changed the call," Tracy said. "If you think it is a foul ball, you call it immediately. As a field umpire, you throw your hands in the air and say no, no that is a foul ball. Instead we were on the bench and then they called us back out on the field. It is extremely unusual that a pitcher gets more warmup pitches in the middle of an inning. Obviously that was a weird play."
State College went on top with a run in the bottom of the sixth when Gaffney walked and later scored on an Crosscutter error.
The Spikes tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to set the final. Gaffney was again the middle of things when he was safe on a misplayed double to leftfield. He later scored on a sharp single to left by Walker Gourley. Gourley scored the final run of the game on a RBI single up the middle by Barrett Barnes.
On Sunday, the series with Williamsport concluded as the Spikes split a doubleheader on the road, setting a season-high mark for single-game runs for a 12-6 victory in the first game and falling in game two, 5-0.
In the first game, State College (18-16) rapped 11 hits and scored in every inning but the third. The Spikes were held to just three hits in game two, however.
The Spikes are at home tonight for the first in a two-game set with Batavia.