Spikes fall to ’Cutters in pitchers duel

State College loses lead in later innings

State College’s Zach Kirtley turns two as Williamsport’s Josh Stephen slides into second base during the Spikes’ 3-1 SawBuck Series victory over the Crosscutters Saturday evening in State College.

STATE COLLEGE — After watching his team play a pair of “clean” games only to come out on the short end of the final score, Williamsport manager Pat Borders saw his club take care of business Sunday night as the Crosscutters defeated the State College Spikes, 3-2, before 3,327 fans at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

“We swung the bats a little bit better and competed better at the plate and played good defense as we have been,” Borders said. “That was the difference between our first two games and tonight.”

State College manager Joe Kruzel, although disappointed with the loss, echoed many of the same thoughts on the game as Borders.

“This was another well pitched game on both sides. It really was,” Kruzel said. “We had some opportunities early in the game, but their guy (Ramon Rosso) didn’t give us much to hit. We had a runner on third base with two outs and then first and third with nobody out. But tonight we just couldn’t cash in like we did in the first two games of the series. You have to give their guys a lot of credit for making some outstanding pitches. We were simply not able to get the job done in those situations.”

For the third game in a row, pitching was the name of the game.

With both pitchers, Williamsport’s Ramon Rosso and State College’s Jonathan Mulford having things pretty much their own way, the Spikes broke open the scoreless game with a pair of runs in the fourth.

“Mulford pitched a pretty good game, but we got hurt a couple of times when he left pitches up,” Kruzel said. “Other than that, we got another really good pitching effort from our side. Unfortunately for us, we just couldn’t come through with the big hit.”

Scott Hurst worked Rosso for a free pass, Bryce Denton followed with a single to center and Yariel Gonzalez chased Hurst across the plate when he went shopping at the right-centerfield gap for a RBI double.

Josh Lopez kept the SC streak moving ahead when he blooped an RBI single to shallow right field, Denton scoring on the play for a 2-0 Spikes lead.

Held scoreless through the first five innings, the Cutters cut their deficit in half in the sixth, tied in the seventh and took the lead for keeps in the eighth.

In the sixth, Nick Maton stroked a one-out single and Josh Stephen followed with a RBI double to right.

One inning later, Jake Scheiner picked on the first offering from Mulford and drilled a line drive home run down the left field line. Following the Scheiner blast, the Cutters “juiced” the sacks on a pair of walks and a single, but did not score.

In the eighth, Greg Pickett rapped an opposite field double and one out later, Cole Stobbe doubled off the top of the left field fence to chase Pickett home with the go-ahead run to give the Cutters their first lead in the three-game series.

With the game on the line, the Cutter tandem of Kyle Dohy and Luis Ramirez did the job out of the bullpen. Dohy struck out five of the six batters he faced in his two innings of work for the win before Ramirez came on to work a clean 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 11th save of the season.

“Our pitching kept us in the game and when they got trouble, they stayed focused, didn’t walk anybody and they kept us close the whole game,” Borders said. “Our pitching has been good all series and we didn’t hit the ball well in the first two games because of their pitching and that is what kind of happened to them tonight.”

For Dohy, his effort was big in several ways.

“That was big in a lot of ways,” Borders said. “It was good for him to get out there and have the success he had, especially in his second inning of work. I was happy for him because that will carry him along well for the rest of the year. As for Ramirez, he has been good for us all year. He hasn’t had any missed steps. He had a couple of blown saves, but they were close.”

Still very much in the hunt for a possible playoff spot, Kruzel was quick to point out that right now is not a time for his players to feel sorry for themselves.

“There is no time or place to sulk,” he said. “We understand what is ahead of us. We are going into West Virginia tomorrow and somebody is going to come out of that by coming through and hopefully that will be us.”

Entering the West Virginia series, the Spikes are currently 4 games out first place with 11 games to play, while they are 3 1/2 games back in the race for the wild card slot in the playoffs.

Daniel Castano will take the ball for the Spikes with hopes of taking another step toward the post-season.