Muckdogs hold off Spikes after 8th inning rally

UNIVERSITY PARK — With the way things were going, there was feeling that one big break was going to be a factor in which team won the game between the State College Spikes and Batavia Muckdogs.

With the Muckdogs and Spikes deadlocked through seven innings in a scoreless duel, the Muckdogs broke through in the eighth to score four runs before holding on for a 4-3 win.

For the Spikes, the loss was their fifth in a row.

“We are putting ourselves in a position to fight back and if you look at those guys out there, they put themselves in a position to win and they battle but right now, it is just not going our way,” Spikes manager Joe Kruzel said. “The one thing I do know is that if we stop competing then we aren’t going to be in this situation (to win) and it isn’t going to turn around. The guys just have to understand they need to keep coming out, competing and battling because that is the only way it is going to turn around.”

In the Batavia eighth, Harrison White dew a one-out walk before Batavia combined four hits and a walk from its next five batters to put the crooked number on the scoreboard.

Batavia’s big break came with one out when Demetrius Sims grounded an eat-em-up ball off third baseman Edwin Figuera’s glove for a base hit and from there, the flood gates opened.

Pitching was the name of the game and with the call-up of Franyel Casadilla, Kruzel had to adjust his pitching rotation. With that in mind, he started Chris Holba and followed him with Eli Kraus.

“It is a great opportunity for Casadilla to show what he can do in Peoria,” Kruzel said. “We are very happy and excited for him. When he got called up, we just made a minor adjustment where we kept Holba back from yesterday to throw today with Kraus. It really wasn’t that big of a deal because when you have to do it when a kid is sent to the next level, it makes it easy to make the adjustments.”

Trailing 4-0, the Spikes answered the Muckdogs uprising with two runs of their own in the eighth.

Delvin Perez doubled to left and Wood Myers followed with an RBI single to center. Justin Toerner when shopping at the gap as he ripped an RBI triple to the boards, chasing Myers home with the second State College run.

One thing that Kruzel and his staff have instilled in this year’s edition of the

Spikes is that when you are down, never give up because there is still that possibility of pulling the game out of the fire.

Still trailing 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Spikes made things interesting, most of it happening with two outs.

Stanley Espinal drew a base on balls and one out later, Brady Whalen worked Batavia reliever Jameson McGrane for a free pass.

Edwin Figuera loaded the bases when he beat out an infield single and Delvin Perez chased Espinal home when he was also the recipient of walk courtesy of McGrane.

However, with the tying run at third and the potential winning run at second, McGrane coaxed Wood Myers to hit into a game-ending fielder’s choice.

For the Spikes, Kruzel is hoping that his players realize that the sun comes up in the east, sets in the west and tomorrow is another day with the opportunity to play another game.

“As long as those guys (Spikes players) realize that, we will be OK,” said Kruzel. “I would rather be in these situations where we are getting guys on base to give us an opportunity as opposed to nobody getting on base. Sooner or later it will break and change for us, but the one thing I know is that you have to keep competing and battling, otherwise it will never change.”

The two teams will bring the curtain down on the 3-game series tonight with a single game set for a 7:05 first pitch.

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