Mahoning Valley wins battle of pitching staffs over Spikes in first meeting

UNIVERSITY PARK — Pitching, pitching and more pitching. That has been the theme for the State College Spikes in the early going.

Sunday night, the Spike pitchers combined for 10 innings of scoreless baseball in a shutout win over Williamsport.

Monday night at Medlar Field it was more of the same as Jim Voyles, Kevin Hamann and Michael Baird combined for eight innings of three-hit baseball.

Four of the Scrappers hits came in the ninth and were charged to Patrick Dayton as the Scrappers turned their bats loose on the lefty, scoring three more times that eventually resulted in a 4-1 Mahoning Valley win.

Unfortunately for the Spikes, as good as Voyles, Hamann and Baird were, the trio of Adoni Kery, Dakody Clemmer and Luis Alvarez were very stingy for Mahoning Valley, allowing the Spikes just one base hit through eight innings, a leadoff single to Wayde Infante in the third inning.

“We pitched well enough for this game to be a little different than it was,” State College manager Joe Kruzel said. “But you have to tip your hat to those guys in the other dugout because they pitched well too. The fact of the matter was that we didn’t have too many opportunities until we got to the ninth to stop them from scoring runs and we didn’t take care of that.

With their backs to the wall, the Spikes didn’t throw in the towel and go quietly as they brought the tying run to the plate with one out trailing by four runs.

“We had opportunities in the ninth when we got the tying run up there (at the plate) so you have to be pleased about that part,” Kruzel said. “But at the same time, we put ourselves in that boat that got us behind.”

Engineering the State College comeback effort that just fell short were Delvin Perez with an infield single, Justin Toerner with a single to left and Brendan Donovan with a base on balls.

With Mahoning Valley’s Adoni Kery and State College’s Jim Voyles locked up in a pitchers duel through the first five innings, Scrapper Elvis Perez provided the game’s biggest offense when he picked on a 1-0 offering from Voyles and deposited it over the rightfield fence to give the Scrappers a 1-0 lead in the second inning for all of the scoring until the ninth.

With the Scrappers holding a 4-0 lead heading into the ninth inning, the Spikes responded to a wake-up call as they scored their only run of the game before bringing the potential tying run to the plate.

Enter Eric Algarin on the bump for the Scrappers and the right-hander retired the two men he faced to save the game for Mahoning Valley.

So what is the root of the offensive problems for the Spikes?

“They are just trying too hard,” Kruzel said. “They are pressing, trying to do more than they are capable of instead of just being themselves. All we (the coaches) are asking them to is just be themselves because they are putting more pressure on themselves than there needs to be.

“I guess they are trying too hard to impress someone and maybe that guy is me for all I know.”

So are their positives that Kruzel and his assistants are seeing despite the problems?

“We have seen positives in all four games we have played thus far this year,” he said. “There have been a lot more positives than negatives and I think once they just take a nice, deep breath, put their spikes back in the ground I think they are going to be fine.”

Now 2-2 in the early going, the Spikes will once again host the Scrappers tonight. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.