Spikes look for change, can’t find it in loss

UNIVERSITY PARK — After suffering three straight losses to West Virginia, the State College Spikes returned to Medlar Field hoping to turn things around with some good home cooking.

Unfortunately for the Spikes, the Muckdogs had other ideas as they dealt the Spikes an 8-6 defeat Sunday.

“We fought and we took the lead in the fifth,” Spikes manager Joe Kruzel said. “We probably should have done a better job of not allowing them to score in the next inning.”

The Muckdogs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead and they used a little two-out lightning to get the job done.

With two outs, Batavia parlayed three straight singles by Albert Guaimaro, Denis Karas and Igor Baez for a run, Guaimaro scoring on Baez’s RBI single to right.

Trailing 1-0, the Spikes, taking advantage of wildness on the part of Batavia starter R. J. Peace, got themselves even with their first run of the game.

Stanley Espinal got things started with a single to right.

Following the single by Espinal, consecutive walks issued to Joe Gomez, Edwin Figuera and Nick Dunn made it 1-1.

Manual Rodriguez replaced Peace on the bump for the Muckdogs, and the lefty promptly uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Dunn to sprint home for the Spikes’ second run.

Justin Toerner picked up the fourth base on balls of the inning and Wadye Ynfante followed with a two-run single to right for a 4-1 State College lead after five complete innings.

Sometimes in the game of baseball, what you taketh you sometimes giveth back and the Spikes did just that.

After receiving four free passes in bottom of the fifth, Spikes pitching returned the favor by issuing three walks in the top of the sixth. Coupled with a single by Jerar Encarnacion and a bases-clearing double, the Muckdogs dug themselves out of the hole to go back on top 5-4.

Obviously feeling the heat by the Spikes breathing down their necks, the Muckdogs again used a little two-out lightning in the seventh.

Encarnacion doubled to right, J. D. Osborne beat out an infield single, Sean Reynolds belted a high home run over the right field fence and just like that, it was Batavia 8, State College 4.

“We had two outs (for them) in the seventh with nobody on,” Kruzel said. “They got a guy on first on a close play and then the guy hits the three-run homer. We have to work harder on being able to shut down innings and not let them put up crooked numbers on us.”

Not going quietly, the Spikes scored another run and brought the potential tying run to the plate before Doug Domnarski came on to get the final out of the game.

Figuera reached on a fielder’s choice and Nick Dunn followed with a frozen rope into the right field corner for an RBI double.

“It was good to see the guys fight to get back into the game,” Kruzel said. “You just have to love that about this ball club, you really do. As for the final out, I will take full responsibility for that because the stop sign was too late. That was on me and not on the kids. They played hard and stuck their noise in until the end. They battled to the end and that (late stop sign) was my bone head play. There are times when we have to start earlier than later. They just have to understand that (comeback) has to happen before the eighth or ninth inning.”

The two teams will continue their three-game series tonight with a single game slated for a 7:05 first pitch.