Spikes season concludes in home loss

STATE COLLEGE — Bryce Denton picked up a pair of hits and Irving Lopez drove in the State College Spikes’ lone run in his debut with the club, but the Williamsport Crosscutters took a 6-1 decision in the season finale for both teams on Thursday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The loss set the Spikes’ final 2017 record at 40-35, marking the franchise’s fifth consecutive 40-win season after never before reaching that threshold.

Denton delivered a pair of singles as the Spikes were held to four hits, with Lopez’s run-scoring double in the seventh and Zach Kirtley’s fourth-inning single accounting for the others.

Williamsport (37-37) got a big effort from Jake Scheiner, who finished a triple shy of the cycle in a 3-for-4 night. Scheiner knocked in a pair of runs with his fourth homer of the season in the sixth.

The Crosscutters built their lead with a Nerluis Martinez groundout with the bases loaded in the second, then added two runs in the fourth on Malvin Matos’s RBI groundout and a wild pitch. Brian Mims’s single in the eighth capped the scoring.

State College starter Paul Balestrieri (3-4) took the loss, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out four batters over four innings.

Julian Garcia (4-5) picked up the win for Williamsport after starting and giving up just one hit over five scoreless innings. Garcia gave up three walks and recorded six strikeouts.

Prior to the game, the Spikes finished their honor roll of 2017 team award winners by presenting Daniel Castano with the Pitcher of the Year award and naming Evan Mendoza the team MVP.

Castano set new single-season club records for strikeouts (81) and innings pitched (91) while matching the franchise wins record with nine on the season. The left-hander, a 2016 19th-round draft choice out of Baylor, also tied single-game records for strikeouts and innings pitched during the year. Castano earned the honor of starting the New York-Penn League All-Star Game as well.

Mendoza became the first Spikes player to win two NYPL Player of the Week awards as he captured back-to-back honors for July 24-30 and July 31-August 6. The 2017 11th-round draft choice out of N.C. State hit .370 with 14 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 28 RBI over 41 games before being called up to Single-A Peoria on August 10.

Despite being out of the league for nearly a month, Mendoza could also still be awarded the NYPL batting title depending on results of other Thursday games, as his average while being credited with an out for every at-bat to meet the league minimum may still surpass all other NYPL batting qualifiers.