Spikes’ big first inning enough to beat Black Bears

STATE COLLEGE – The State College Spikes plated six runs in the first inning and held on to defeat the West Virginia Black Bears, 6-5, Thursday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

With the win, State College (32-30) is now three games back of the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division lead currently held by Mahoning Valley. West Virginia (35-27) is now percentage points back in second place.

The Spikes’ early surge included 10 batters coming to the plate in the initial frame, with Scott Hurst’s RBI triple beginning the scoring. State College’s offensive onslaught continued with straight hits, including a run-scoring single for Yariel Gonzalez, a two-run double from Matt Davis, and RBI doubles for J.D. Crowe and Dennis Ortega.

State College was held to one hit following its’ first-inning outburst, but held on thanks to a solid pitching effort. Starter Paul Balestrieri allowed four runs, three of them earned, on six hits, three walks and two hit batsmen while striking out one batter over four innings.

Reliever Steven Farinaro (2-1) then logged four innings of one-run ball for the victory. Farinaro, the Spikes’ 2016 Pitcher of the Year, yielded one run on three hits, a walk and two hit batsmen while notching two strikeouts. Jason Zgardowski (1) then pitched a one-hit ninth and struck out one batter to earn the save.

Black Bears starter Sergio Cubilete (3-6) withstood the first inning to last six frames on the hill, but took the loss. Cubilete gave up a total of seven hits and three walks while recording two strikeouts.

Chris Sharpe, Lucas Tancas and Raul Siri each produced multi-hit games for West Virginia.

The Spikes now turn towards the second half of their six-game homestand as the Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia Phillies) visit Medlar Field at Lubrano Park tonight for the opener of a three-game series. State College will send NYPL All-Star left-hander Andrew Summerville (3-0) to the mound. Williamsport will counter with an NYPL All-Star left-hander of their own in 6’10” Kyle Young (6-1).