STATE COLLEGE – The State College Spikes took both games of a doubleheader from New York-Penn League foe Staten Island Monday afternoon by scores of 4-3 and 7-1 in a seven-inning affair, capping off a three-game sweep of the Yankees and stretching its win streak to five games. The doubleheader was played due to heavy rain and storms that stopped Sunday night’s contest after just two-and-a-half innings.
The resumption of Sunday’s contest, scheduled to start at noon, began after an 87-minute rain delay with the Spikes (23-8) coming to the plate in the bottom of the third against Staten Island hurler Matthew Borens. Neither team managed to pose much of a threat until Staten Island (15-16) loaded the bases in the top of the fifth with one out against pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon. The righty got out of the jam when Devyn Bolasky went down swinging and Luis Torrens watched strike three nip the inside corner. Yankees manager Mario Garza was subsequently ejected by home plate umpire Jacob Metz for arguing balls and strikes.
The conclusion of the top of the fifth brought the grounds crew back onto the field with the tarp. Within minutes of Garza’s ejection, State College manager Oliver Marmol was tossed by Metz for voicing his displeasure of the timing of the rain delay, which went on to last 43 minutes.
That was the last time the weather would interfere with this series, which is the only time these teams will meet this season.
Staten Island broke through with a two-out rally in the sixth. Austin Aune one-hopped the right field fence for a double and came around to score when Vincente Conde doubled into the left-center field gap. He tried to stretch it into a triple and a good throw from left fielder Nick Thompson would have been in time to tag him out, but it was wide of the bag, leaving Conde at third. Poncedeleon was able to strand him there by inducing an Isaias Tejeda groundout.
State College threatened in the bottom half when Robelys Reyes stole second with two outs, but McNamara got cleanup hitter Alex De Leon to harmlessly ground out to end the inning.
The game remained 1-0 until the eighth, when Yankees first baseman Chris Breen launched a solo shot off reliever Jeff Rauh to give the visitors a 2-0 advantage.
State College responded in a big way in the bottom of the inning. Jhohan Acevedo singled off righty Dillon McNamara to start the inning and was followed by Darren Seferina laying a perfectly-placed bunt down the first base line. Catcher Torrens’ throw to first sailed into right field and allowed Acevedo to advance to third, but an accurate throw wouldn’t have beaten Seferina to the bag, anyway. McNamara’s control then abandoned him completely as he plunked Reyes to load the bases and then hit Danny Diekroeger on the hand to force a run in. Lefty Rony Bautista came in to relieve him but was no better, walking De Leon on four pitches to bring the tying run in. Reyes would later score on a wild pitch and designated hitter Jake Stone would add a sacrifice fly to give the Spikes a 4-2 lead heading into the ninth.
“They brought in the lefty and he came in and we took advantage of some passed balls and some miscues on their end,” State College manager Oliver Marmol said. “In a game like that, that’s huge. When you’re not really swinging the bat the way you want to and you take advantage of things like that, it’s helpful.”
Reliever Tyler Bray took the hill in the ninth seeking his first save of the year but struggled, allowing two runners to reach base with just one out. Kyle Grana came on to replace him and a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position, but a heady play on a grounder to shortstop Reyes cut down Renzo Martini, the runner on second, at third base. That set up a strikeout of Torrens, nailing down the save for Grana and putting the Spikes in the win column.
From the way the second game started, it seemed a pitcher’s duel between State College’s Fernando Baez and Staten Island’s Jordan Cote was imminent as the two right-handers each tossed perfect first and second innings. As it turned out, only Baez could keep the good vibes going. He surrendered a run in the third on a sacrifice fly, but that would be the only blemish in his effective five innings of work, in which he gave up just two hits and struck out two.
“He gave us a nice outing,” Marmol said of the hard-throwing righty, who is making the transition from relief pitching earlier in the season to having a regular spot in the rotation now. “We expected for him to be a little scattered, but be able to control and make adjustments, and he’s done a very good job of that.”
It took just one swing of the bat for the State College offense to wake up. After Alex De Leon drew a two-out walk, first baseman Jake Stone blasted his fourth home run of the year to give the Spikes a 2-1 lead. It was State College’s New York-Penn League-leading 30th homer of the season.
With Baez in control on the mound and keeping the Yankees in check, the Spikes were free to begin to pour it on the visitors in the fifth. Ronnierd Garcia singled and an error allowed Chase Raffield to reach, giving the Spikes two baserunners with no outs. A perfectly-placed bunt single by Seferina, his second of the afternoon, put a Spike at every bag. Reyes followed with a sacrifice fly and Ehrlich singled to left to make it 4-1. Seferina would then steal third, but catcher Tejeda’s throw was high and rolled into left field, allowing Seferina to trot home.
State College would add two more insurance runs in the sixth when Raffield raked a two-RBI double to deep center that scored Nick Thompson and Collin Radack, who had singled and doubled, respectively.
“It’s always good when you can go to your bench and those guys come up with some big hits and some RBIs,” Marmol said of Radack and Raffield, two big contributors in the second game who didn’t see any action in the first contest. “Those guys do a tremendous job when they’re given the opportunity, and it’s good to have that type of depth at this level.”
Relievers Jacob Booden and Joe Scanio pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings to preserve the victory. Cote (0-2) took the loss for Staten Island and Baez (2-0) picked up the win for State College.
The Spikes are off today and will begin a six-game road trip Wednesday against Vermont at 7:05pm.