Muckdogs down Spikes in series finale

UNIVERSITY PARK — For State College, Tuesday night’s game with Batavia was more of the same.

They scored first, got a solid pitching effort from starter Winston Nicacio and battled right to the end. The result was a 4-3 loss to the Muckdogs in the series finale.

“The one constant we are having is that we are battling and competing, but there are the situations where it can’t always be the ninth inning,” Spikes manager Joe Kruzel said. “We had opportunities to score earlier and we had opportunities to stop them from scoring and we didn’t do it. We made some nice defensive plays, but then we misplayed a ball and it led to runs and that is one thing that is really haunting us right now. The biggest thing that is haunting us right now is our inability to pitch over mistakes or hit over mistakes. We have to get better at doing that if we are to turn this thing around.”

The Spikes drew first blood with a run in the second when Wood Myers ripped a double off the boards in left-center, advancing to third on a throwing error by Batavia and scoring on Andres Luna’s swinging bunt single.

The Muckdogs took the lead for keeps in the fourth with a pair of runs.

Jerar Encarnacion singled to left and Sean Reynolds ripped an RBI triple into the KIA corner in right field. Two pitches later, Reynolds scored on a sacrifice fly to right off the bat of J. D. Osborne.

Giving themselves some separation, the Muckdogs parlayed three hits, a base on balls and an error for two runs and if not for the second double play in as many innings, it could have been a lot more.

“We made two big defensive plays,” Kruzel said. “We got the big 6-3 double play up the middle and that got us out of the seventh and then we turned the 6-2-3 in the eighth and that got us out of trouble at that point. We were fortunate to get that double play, but then you can’t let it go any further. You have to be able to execute and we didn’t do it. We let them build a 3-run lead instead of it being a 1-run lead. We had a couple of blunders on the bases that cost us opportunities to score and the way we are playing right now, we don’t have that flexibility to make a mistake and play over it. That is what is really biting us right now.”

Despite falling behind 4-1, the Spikes once again battled and scrapped, but fell short in the final score. The loss for the Spikes was their sixth in a row.

In the ninth, Andres Luna beat out a bunt single and Delvin Perez followed with a single to right. Following a pair of strikeouts, Edwin Figuera plated both Luna and Perez with a two-run double to right

With the tying run on third and the potential winning run at the plate, Nick Dunn struck out swinging to end the game.

As for the solid starting pitching, that was provided by Winston Nicacio. For his six innings or work, Nicacio allowed two earned runs on a half dozen hits, walking two and striking out six.

The Spikes will enjoy a day off today before traveling to Williamsport for a Thursday night game with the Crosscutters. First pitch for that game is slated for 7:05 p.m.