Big offense drives Spikes in 9-3 contest

STATE COLLEGE – To say the State College Spikes were offensive Wednesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park might be the understatement of the year.

Twenty-four hours after the Spikes rapped out 15 hits and scored 10 runs in a 10-4 win over Williamsport, they again went on an offensive rampage in Happy Valley as they clubbed 15 hits and scored nine runs in a 9-3 win over the Cutters before 3,009 fans.

“These guys are locked in and doing a good job of putting good swings on the pitches,” Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said. “They know what is at stake and they come to the ball park sticking to a routine and it is showing on the field. Yesterday I think we had seven hits with two strikes so they are proving to be tough outs. (Carson) Kelly hit some balls hard tonight that were turned into outs, but everything we are hitting now is hit pretty hard.”

If there was one glaring stat on the downside of things for the Cutters, it was that they committed four errors, giving them seven miscues in the two games.

“We made a few errors on defense and seven in the two games,” Cutters manager Nelson Prada said. “We have been working a lot on defense and when you play on a field as nice as this one is, that shouldn’t happen. Canelo has been making good plays on other fields and here, he made two errors, but those things happen.”

The Spikes got on the board in the first with a little help from the Cutters.

With two outs, Brett Wiley reached on an error, David Washington worked Mitch Gueller for a free pass and Ron Castillo followed with an RBI single to right.

Carson Kelly hit a routine ground ball to short, and when Malquin Canelo couldn’t handle the exchange from glove to hand, Kelly was safe on the error as Washington chugged home with the second State College run.

Already holding a 2-0 lead, the Spikes got out the whipping sticks in the fourth inning as they used a half dozen hits, a passed ball and a wild pitch to score five runs.

Picking up singles for the Spikes were Jimmy Bosco, Cesar Valera, Brett Wiley, Castillo and Kelly. Washington had the big hit as he drove in a pair of runs with a double to right-center field. He later picked up his third RBI of the game and the three RBI pushed Washington’s season total to 43, one shy of the Spikes’ all-time record.

“I am seeing the ball real well right now,” Washington said. “I have been able to put some good swings on it and luckily for me they have been falling in. I have had a couple of games where I hit the ball hard, but they were right at people. I also had some bloop hits so it kind of evens up.”

In addition to Washington’s good night, Castillo also had a good night with the stick as he went 4-for-5 with an RBI. For the two games against the Cutters he is 6-for-10.

“Those are two really good games,” Marmol said. “The thing right now is that his hits are all hit pretty hard. He is laying off pitches out of the zone, taking good swings and making good contact and that kind of approach leads to good games like he had. We are pretty excited about what he is doing.”

The Cutters got on the board in the fifth and they used a pair of hits and two walks to get the job done. The big hit in the frame was a two-run single to center by Andrew Pullin, chasing Logan Pierce and Gustavo Martinez across the plate.

Pierce went 4-for-4 in the game, giving him a 6-for-9 series with four doubles against the Spikes.

“He (Pierce) is swinging the bat real well and recognizing good pitches,” Prada said. “The hitting coach has been working with the hitters on pitch recognition and as a result we have only struck out 15 times in the last five games. When we were on the road a week ago we must have struck out a hundred times so that is really an improvement. Today we only struck out once through eight innings which means they are doing a better job of recognizing pitches. Unfortunately we struck out twice in the last inning tonight with the bases loaded.”

The Spikes added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to go up 9-2 and they never looked back.

The Cutters made some noise in the ninth inning when they loaded the bases with nobody out. But as fate would have it for the Phillies farmhands, the next two batters struck out before Pierce flew out to right to end the game.

The win by the Spikes, their sixth in a row, gives them a 6-2 edge in the Sawbuck Series.

The same two teams will conclude the three-game series tonight with a single game at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. First pitch for that game is set for 7:05 game.

The Spikes will send Willy Paulino (2-2) to the bump, while the Crosscutters will counter with Drew Anderson (6-3).