Spikes a win away from title

TROY, N.Y. – Mason Katz slugged a solo home run to tie the game in the fifth inning, and the State College Spikes took advantage of an error in the 11th to defeat the Tri-City ValleyCats, 2-1, and win Game 1 of the New York-Penn League Championship Series on Tuesday night at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

The Spikes can now cinch the first NYPL championship in franchise history with a win over the ValleyCats in Game 2 of the championship series tonight at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.

State College scored the game-winning run in the 11th when Tri-City reliever Edison Frias (0-1) threw Jimmy Bosco’s sacrifice bunt try into right field to allow Luis Perez to score. Perez had led off the inning with a single up the middle, which was just the third Spikes hit of the game.

Katz’s home run off ValleyCats starter Evan Grills came on the first pitch he saw, and nearly hit the ballpark lights in left field. The LSU product also singled in the third inning to produce the other State College hit.

Spikes pitching helped keep the game close throughout the night. Arturo Reyes started for State College and allowed an unearned run on Brian Holberton’s sacrifice fly in the second inning, but recorded 14 consecutive outs to end his outing. Reyes gave up just two hits and a walk while striking out one over six innings of work.

Kevin Herget then retired the first five batters he faced in relief for the Spikes and allowed two hits and a walk. Herget struck out six batters over three innings before Jacob Booden (1-0) earned the win. Booden tossed two scoreless innings in which he walked one and struck out four.

Tri-City did manage to scare the Spikes one last time in the 11th when Ronnie Mitchell hit a ball to the wall in right-center field that Bosco was able to chase down for the next-to-last out of the game.

ValleyCats catcher Brent Booth was the only player to notch multiple hits in the game.

Grills went a career-long eight innings in the start, allowing a run on two hits and a walk while striking out six. Frias took the loss after yielding the unearned run in the 11th before getting all three outs in the inning.

The two teams combined to go 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position during the game. Tri-City committed a total of three errors to State College’s one.

Right-hander Nick Petree (0-1) is set to get the ball for the Spikes. The Missouri State product and 2013 ninth-round draft choice of the Cardinals will look to rebound from a tough outing in Game 1 of the NYPL Semifinal Series against Jamestown. Petree, who put up a 1.62 ERA in the regular season, allowed six runs on nine hits and a walk over three innings.

Tri-City will go with 2013 NYPL ERA champion Michael Feliz on the mound. The right-hander went seven shutout innings against Aberdeen in Game 1 of the NYPL Semifinal Series. Feliz went 4-2 with a 1.96 ERA in the regular season.