Spikes top Auburn 7-4 to win division, clinch playoff berth

AUBURN, N.Y. – The State College Spikes punched their first-ever ticket to the postseason and won the first Pinckney Division championship in franchise history with a 7-4 win over the Auburn Doubledays on Saturday night at Falcon Park.

With the win, State College (46-25) will now await the winner of the New York-Penn League’s wild card berth in the best-of-three semifinal series, which begins Sept. 6 at the wild card winner’s home park. The Spikes will host Game Two and, if necessary, Game Three of the series.

The Spikes took a 6-0 lead on Auburn (24-47) over the first four innings and produced 13 hits in the first five. Ronald Castillo helped State College extend its lead with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth inning.

Jimmy Bosco and Matthew Young each put together multi-hit games for State College as well.

Kevin Herget (7-0) earned the win to become the first Spikes pitcher to ever start a season with seven straight winning decisions. Herget allowed two runs on four hits and a walk over six innings, striking out a career-high seven batters along the way.

Chase Brookshire relieved Herget and tossed two innings in which he allowed two unearned runs on one hit and struck out one. Mitch Harris (1) came on for State College and allowed one hit, but elicited a game-ending double play to pick up his first professional save.

Doubledays starter John Simms (0-3) took the loss after yielding six runs on ten hits over 3 1/3 innings. Simms also struck out three batters.

However, Saturday’s elation turned into Sunday’s difficulties as the Spikes were held to three hits by Auburn’s pitching, and a pair of big home runs helped give the Doubledays a 10-0 victory.

Jimmy Yezzo’s three-run homer to right field off Juan Bautista (1-5) in the fourth inning extended the Auburn (25-47) lead to 4-0, and a seventh-inning grand slam to left field by Matt Foat off Michael Aldrete doubled that lead to put the game out of reach.

Jimmy Bosco’s double and singles by Matthew Young and Dante Rosenberg were the extent of the State College (46-26) offense save for three walks and one time hit by pitch.

All of the Doubledays’ runs were scored in either a four-run fourth inning or a six-run seventh. Every Auburn starter collected at least one of the team’s 13 hits. Wilman Rodriguez reached base three times on two hits and a walk. Yezzo added a double to go with his home run. Foat knocked in a total of five runs in the game.

Bautista took the loss after yielding six runs, five earned, on eight hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings. The Spikes right-hander struck out two batters.

Auburn starter R.C. Orlan was removed from the game after giving up one hit and three walks while striking out five over four innings of work. Reliever Andrew Cooper (2-1) picked up the victory with two hitless innings in which he allowed one hit batsman and struck out three.

The Spikes now head to Russell Diethrick Park for a Labor Day matchup against the Jamestown Jammers (Pittsburgh Pirates) to begin a three-game series between the two teams. Jamestown is currently 1 games ahead of Tri-City in the race for the New York-Penn League wild card.

Right-hander Arturo Reyes (1-2) is currently scheduled to start the 4:05 p.m. matchup for the Spikes. Jamestown has not yet announced a starter.