Black Bears avoid sweep from Spikes

GRANVILLE, W.Va. — Stanley Espinal hit his third home run of the season, and Brady Whalen drove in three runs, but the State College Spikes dropped the finale of a three-game set against the West Virginia Black Bears, 7-4, Thursday night at Monongalia County Ballpark.

Espinal’s long ball, a solo shot to left field in the fourth inning, was his second on the road this year and put State College (13-20) on the board.

Whalen then drove in two runs with a triple to center field in the fifth to bring the Spikes within 6-3. The Spikes’ first baseman knocked in another run with a bases-loaded groundout in the seventh to make it a 6-4 game, earning his 20th RBI of the season to put him into a tie for fourth in the New York-Penn League in that category.

State College fell behind 4-0 after the third. Zach Susi’s RBI single and Daniel Amaral’s run-scoring groundout put West Virginia (12-21), playing as the Moonshiners for the third straight game, up 2-0 in the second.

Brett Kinneman’s double and Grant Koch’s sacrifice fly to center field in the third increased the West Virginia margin. Daniel Amaral then hit his second home run of the year, a two-run shot to left in the fourth, to give the Moonshiners a 6-1 lead.

West Virginia completed the scoring on Conner Kaiser’s RBI fielder’s choice in the seventh.

Cameron Knight produced the lone multi-hit game for the Spikes, who still took their third straight series victory on the road.

State College starter Jacob Schlesener (0-2) took the loss after yielding four runs, three of them earned, on four hits and three walks over three innings. Schlesener struck out two batters in the effort.

West Virginia starter Alex Manasa (2-4) earned the win after giving up three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out one over five innings. Conner Loeprich (2) allowed two walks, but no hits or runs, and struck out one batter for the save.

Amaral drove in a total of three runs and stole his league-leading 14th base of the season.

The Spikes head back home to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park today to start a weekend series against the Auburn Doubledays (Washington Nationals). The 7:05 p.m. series opener will feature right-hander Jim Voyles (2-2) on the mound for State College. Auburn will counter with left-hander Aaron Fletcher (0-0).