Spikes turn triple play; eliminated from playoff contention
STATE COLLEGE – Zach Kirtley and Matt Davis combined to turn the first triple play in State College Spikes history in the sixth inning, but the Spikes’ playoff chances evaporated as a strong mound effort from State College Area High School alum Nick Raquet led the Auburn Doubledays to a 4-1 victory on Monday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
With runners on first and second in the sixth, Kirtley started the historic play by grabbing a line drive off the bat of Nic Perkins out of the air, then stepping on second base to get Andres Martinez. The State College second baseman then threw to Davis at first to force Armond Upshaw for the third out.
Despite the superlative effort, the Spikes’ loss, along with sweeps by Hudson Valley and Mahoning Valley in their respective doubleheaders on Monday, eliminated State College from the postseason.
Raquet (3-2), who grew up in nearby Boalsburg, yielded just one unearned run on five hits over six innings of work to finish his hometown club’s postseason hopes. The left-hander, who was drafted by the Nationals in the third round this year, recorded one strikeout and elicted three double plays over his tenure on the mound.
Auburn (28-44) took the lead in the third inning when Jonathan Pryor lofted a ball to the BB&T Nook in left-center field and rounded the bases for an inside-the-park home run, the first in recent history by a visiting player in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The Doubledays added to the lead in the fifth with a run on the first of three State College errors, and tacked on another on Upshaw’s RBI single before the triple play in the sixth.
Wood Myers put the Spikes on the board with an RBI groundout in the sixth, but Auburn closed the scoring with Perkins’s RBI single up the middle in the eighth.
Spikes left-hander Andrew Summerville (4-1) took his first loss of the season after yielding two runs, one of them earned, on five hits and four walks over 4 2-3 innings. Summerville also recorded five strikeouts in the effort.
Jake Cousins (2) gave up one hit and one walk while recording one strikeout over two innings for the save.
Prior to the game, honorary bench coach Josiah Viera presented Spikes pitcher Levi MaVorhis with the Josiah Viera Perseverance Award. The award, one of three Spikes yearly honors, was introduced in 2015 as a tribute to the Spikes’ honorary bench coach. Josiah faces challenges everyday due to Hutchinson/Gilford progeria but has become a rallying point for the Spikes over the past five seasons thanks to his determination, perseverance and joyous spirit in the face of adversity.
MaVorhis joins Jose Godoy (2015) and Danny Hudzina (2016) as recipients of the honor.
The Spikes finish their series against the Doubledays today with a 7:05 p.m. matchup at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Right-hander Johan Oviedo (2-2) is set to get the ball for State College, while Auburn will go with left-hander Seth Romero (0-1), the Nationals’ 2017 first-round draft choice out of the University of Houston.