Spikes’ Bautista hits walk-off homer
STATE COLLEGE — In a game that featured the first-ever fog delay in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park history, Ricardo Bautista’s two-run walk-off homer gave the State College Spikes an 8-6 win over the Auburn Doubledays on Tuesday night.
The fog, which rolled in at the beginning of the seventh inning, grew thicker as the inning progressed. After Zach Kirtley doubled to center field through the mist to tie the score at 6-6, the game was halted for seven minutes to allow the fog to clear.
Following the resumption of play, the Spikes (40-33) and Doubledays (28-45) battled until the bottom of the ninth, which Kirtley began with a single before being retired at second on a bunt fielder’s choice from J.D. Crowe.
Two batters later, Bautista sent a 3-1 pitch from Auburn reliever Angel Guillen (0-3) deep to right-center field for his fourth home run of the year to give State College its third walk-off win of the season.
The Spikes fell behind early in a back-and-forth game, giving up a pair of runs in the first on a Kameron Esthay single and a Jake Scudder double. State College tied it up in the second on Bryce Denton’s double and Caleb Lopes’s RBI groundout before Esthay sent a 1-0 pitch from Johan Oviedo over the right field bleachers for his fifth homer of the year to make it 3-2, Auburn.
State College jumped ahead in the fourth on RBI singles from Lopes and Joe Gomez, but Auburn plated three runs in the fifth to retake the lead.
Denton then drove in his second run of the game with a single in the fifth to draw the Spikes within one.
The much-anticipated pitchers’ duel between State College’s Oviedo and Auburn’s Seth Romero did not quite materialize. Oviedo allowed all six Doubledays runs, four of them earned, on nine hits and two walks while striking out three batters over five innings.
Romero, the Nationals’ 2017 first-round draft choice out of the University of Houston, struck out a career-high 10 batters, one shy of a ballpark record for a visiting pitcher, but gave up five runs on four hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings.
Jesus Cruz (1-0) got the win in relief for the Spikes with a one-hit ninth inning, striking out three batters in the frame.
Guillen went 1 2/3 innings in a losing effort, yielding a total of four hits while recording three strikeouts.
The Spikes now head into their final series of the season as they take on the Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia Phillies) in a two-game set at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Tonight’s opener will feature right-hander Jonathon Mulford (2-5) on the hill for State College, while Williamsport is set to send NYPL All-Star left-hander Kyle Young (6-2).