Davis’ homer not enough for Spikes

NILES, Ohio — Matt Davis gave the State College Spikes an early lead with his first homer of the year, but Will Benson’s solo shot in the eighth gave the Mahoning Valley Scrappers a 2-1 victory on Friday night at Eastwood Field.

The loss put the Spikes (38-32) 2 1/2 games in back of the Scrappers (40-29) in the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division standings with six games remaining for each club in the 2017 regular season.

State College remained two games behind of Hudson Valley in the race for the NYPL’s lone Wild Card berth, but dropped to third place a game behind Aberdeen.

Davis sent Sam Hentges’s first pitch of the third inning into the Spikes bullpen in left field for a solo shot to give State College the opening lead. Hentges had retired the first six batters of the game before Davis’s blast, and sat down the next five as well.

The Spikes held the advantage until Clark Scolamiero’s RBI single in the fourth tied it up, and the game stayed at 1-1 until the eighth.

Benson then sent an 0-1 pitch from Robbie Gordon (1-6) over the right-center field wall for his eighth homer of the season to give the Scrappers the winning run. The Mahoning Valley right fielder moved into a tie for second place on the NYPL home run leaderboard.

Gordon recorded seven straight outs before allowing the homer, but took the loss. The right-hander allowed a total of two hits while striking out four batters over three innings.

Scrappers reliever Felix Tati (7-3) picked up the win with four scoreless innings on the hill to finish the game. Tati gave up just one hit and recorded three strikeouts.

Jason Rodriguez notched three hits for the Scrappers, while Austen Wade produced two.

The loss stopped the Spikes’ four-game winning streak as well.

Saturday is the finale of the three-game set. NYPL All-Star left-hander Daniel Castano (8-3) gets the mound call for State College, while right-hander Gregori Vasquez (4-3) takes the ball for Mahoning Valley.

Castano, whose 74 strikeouts are already a Spikes single-season record, is second in the league in wins and leads in innings pitched with 83. Vasquez is fourth in the league in ERA with a 2.20 mark and innings pitched with 69 2/3 on the year.

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