AUBURN, N.Y. - Down 4-0 entering the eighth inning, the State College Spikes scored four runs in the eighth inning, including three on a Samuel Gonzalez double, to tie the Auburn Doubledays and ended up winning their longest game of the year to date in twelve innings, 5-4, on Wednesday night at Falcon Park.
State College (30-32) dug a four-run hole for itself over the first three innings. Auburn (37-25) left fielder Estarlin Martinez got the Doubledays going with an RBI double in the first inning. In the second, Craig Manuel scored on one of three wild pitches delivered by Spikes starter Clario Perez, with Tony Renda knocking in another run with a double two batters later to make it 3-0, Auburn.
Brandon Miller then extended the margin to 4-0 with a two-out solo home run to left field off of Perez in the third inning, and the game meandered along after that until the seventh, when Spikes reliever Josh Smith got out of a second-and-third, no-out jam with no runs against him.
State College then fired up the offense in the eighth inning, beginning the comeback with three straight hits from Jodaneli Carvajal, Walker Gourley and D.J. Crumlich to load the bases for Jacob Stallings. Stallings battled to a 3-2 count, and then drew a walk to draw the Spikes with three runs.
The action would extend into extra innings for the fourth time in the Spikes' 2012 season, with a key 8-6-4 double play in the tenth keeping the score tied.
Finally, in the twelfth inning, State College made its final offensive push. Gourley led off the frame with a single to center field, and advanced to second base on a Crumlich sacrifice bunt. Stallings was then intentionally walked to put runners on first and second. Auburn nearly came up with a double play to get out of the inning, but the throw from second baseman Mike McQuillan bounced off of first baseman Shawn Pleffner's glove for an error to allow Gourley to score with the go-ahead run.
The Spikes would not preserve the win, though, until Jesus Vasquez threw out McQuillan at the plate, with catcher Jon Schwind keeping the ball in a collision for the first out of the bottom half of the twelfth. Two batters later, Dalton Friend (3-1) struck out Ramos for the final out.
Carvajal and Gonzalez each collected three hits for the Spikes in the victory.
Friend earned the win with three innings of shutout ball to finish the game, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three batters. Logan Pevny and Kyle Haynes each pitched two scoreless innings as well for State College. The Spikes' staff combined on 14 strikeouts in the contest.
Auburn closer Derek Self (1-3) took the loss after allowing the Spikes to score the unearned run in the twelft. Self went a total of two innings, yielding a hit and an intentional walk. Starter Nick Lee did not receive a decision, but tossed six scoreless innings in which he yielded four hits and a walk while striking out six.
Ramos ended the game 0-for-6 with six strikeouts for the Doubledays.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Spikes, and reduced their deficit in the division to seven games, keeping a glimmer of postseason hopes alive.
Thursday, the Spikes take on the Doubledays in the final game of a three-game set at Falcon Park. State College will have right-hander Adrian Sampson (0-1) on the mound looking for his first win as a professional. Right-hander Ivan Pineyro (3-1), who has already faced the Spikes twice this year, gets the ball for Auburn.