Spikes toss Auburn; rain shortens game

AUBURN, N.Y. — Delvin Perez produced his first three-hit game for the State College Spikes and the Spikes used a pair of big innings to rout the Auburn Doubledays, 8-0, in a game that rain shortened to 7 1/2 innings on Thursday night at Falcon Park.

Perez collected a trio of singles to lead an 11-hit State College (8-12) attack, and Stanley Espinal knocked in a pair of runs to help the Spikes offense.

State College’s effort was bolstered by the pitching staff’s second shutout of the year. Michael Baird, the Cardinals’ 2018 23rd-round draft choice out of Southern Illinois, tossed four innings of three-hit ball and struck out four batters in his first professional start.

Hector Villalobos (1-0), who joined the Spikes yesterday, then yielded just two hits and struck out two batters over three innings to finish the game and earn the win in his debut with the club.

The Spikes jumped out in front on Espinal’s double in the first, then scored again in the fourth when Imeldo Diaz doubled and then crossed the plate on a double-play ball.

State College took advantage of Auburn (11-8) miscues to plate four runs in the seventh. The Spikes needed just one hit, a bunt single by Andres Luna, to go with two errors and two walks. Doubledays reliever Aaron Barrett also delivered three wild pitches in the inning, with two bringing runners home, and Espinal’s sacrifice fly finished the scoring in the frame.

Wadye Ynfante’s two-out RBI single then brought in another run in the eighth, with an error on the same play ballooning the margin to eight runs, giving the Spikes their biggest win of the year.

Thunderstorms in the Auburn area halted play just after the final out of the State College eighth, and the game was called after a 29-minute delay.

Yonathan Ramirez (1-3), the Auburn starter who was facing the Spikes for the sixth time in his professional career, took the loss. Ramirez allowed just two runs on seven hits and three walks in a quality start, but he dropped to 2-4 against State College all-time. The left-hander also struck out five batters.

The Spikes have now held Auburn scoreless for 15 straight innings since a Doubledays run in the opening frame of Wednesday’s game, the longest shutout streak for the State College staff this season.

Thursday’s win marked the first rain-shortened game for the Spikes since a 4-1, five-inning loss at West Virginia on August 4, 2017. It was all the Spikes’ first win in a rain-shortened affair since a 7-4, seven-inning victory at home against West Virginia on August 11, 2016.

The win secured State College’s first road series victory of the season, and the Spikes will now go for the sweep when they meet the Doubledays in the finale of the three-game set at Falcon Park on Friday.

Left-hander Jake Dahlberg (0-0) gets the ball for State College in the 6:30 p.m. matchup, and he will be opposed by Auburn right-hander Francys Peguero (1-0).