Timely hitting key in Spikes’ home win

UNIVERSITY PARK — Combining solid pitching with situational hitting, State College won its third game in a row Sunday night, a 5-2 conquest of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers before 2,117 fans at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

“I think these guys have been in this situation for a while and it is just good to be on the other end of it,” Spikes manager Joe Kruzel said. “For the most part, I thought they played a very good ball game again today and I said that once they get their spikes in the ground I think this team is going to be all right. Right now it just seems like it is starting to come together so hopefully we can continue doing what we are doing now.”

Situational hitting has been a letdown in a number of the Spikes’ losses to date, but that wasn’t the case Sunday as they scored all five of their runs with two outs.

“I know we scored at least four with two outs, I am not sure about the other one,” Kruzel said. “But the guys have done a good job of battling and putting together some pretty good at-bats and we did have some good situational hitting today with two outs. You have to give a lot of credit to these kids because they haven’t given up. They are continuing to battle and it looks like it is turning around for them.”

The Scrappers drew first blood with a run in the top of the first, but the Spikes answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first for an early 2-1 lead.

With one out, Nick Dunn and Wadye Ynfante stroked back-to-back singles and moved up on an infield ground out.

Picking on an 0-1 offering from Scrapper starter Zach Draper, Lars Nootbaar hit a two-run single to center field.

Just as the Spikes answered the Scrappers first score, Mahoning Valley strung together three straight hits in the top of the second to deadlock the score at two

The Spikes took advantage of some sloppy play by the Scrapper defense as they parlayed a single by Dunn with a base on balls and a fielder’s choice to regain the lead at 3-2 after two complete innings.

The Spikes kept adding on in the fourth and Dunn was again in middle of the action.

The Shikellamy High School and Maryland University product picked up his third hit of the day, a two-out RBI double to drive Andres Luna across the dish. Luna had doubled earlier in the inning.

Dunn completed the scoring in the inning when he trotted across the dish on an RBI single by Wadye Ynfante.

After hitting in some tough luck in recent games, Dunn was glad to see the positive things happen for him in the win. In addition to his three hits, he also scored a pair and drove one in.

“This was my best game of the season and I was just seeing the ball well today,” Dunn said . “Luck is on your side sometimes. I hit a couple balls hard and then you get some of those squeakers at times and they help. It was just a good day for me and the team. Now that we have three wins in a row we have to keep it going.”

It is sometimes easy to “get down” when you square up and barrel the ball and get nothing to show for it. However, Dunn has a positive approach to the game when that happens.

“That is always a little frustrating, but that is part of being a baseball player,” Dunn said. “The good players are the ones who deal with that by putting it behind themselves and move on to the next at-bat.”

The Spikes featured solid pitching in the win behind starter Eli Kraus followed by Will Changarotty, Chris Holba, Jacob Schlesener and Cory Malcom.

Holba worked 3 1/3 innings to pick up the win, the righthander scattering four hits, striking out four and walking none. Schlesener worked 1/3 inning to earn his first hold of the season and Malcolm was awarded the save, his second of the season.

“The kids do that,” Kruzel said about the solid bullpen performance. “They get in that situation and perform and that is what happens. You have to give a lot of credit to the guys who came in there. Changarotty did a good job of gapping it for us to get to Holba and Holba did a really good job. Then to get the final two outs behind Schlesener and Malcolm was just outstanding.”

The two teams will play the second of three games in the series tonight with a single game set for a 7:05 first pitch.