Double trouble: Spikes fall in doubleheader to Doubledays
UNIVERSITY PARK — On the heels of manufacturing a five-game win streak, State College has fallen on hard times with four straight losses.
Things have gone south for the Spikes as they dropped both games of a doubleheader Thursday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Auburn broke open a close game with a late crooked number for a 7-1 win before opening game two with another crooked number en route to a 6-0 win.
“Today was an unfortunate day for us,” Spikes manager Joe Kruzel said. “You can sit out there and look at it and a lot of people might say that it was a lack of effort, but whatever the reason, it was not typical of us. What we had been playing like and then how we played today, I think that is the difference. I don’t know if lack of effort is a fair assessment or going through the motions. I really think it is a combination of a couple of things. But again, it was just not our normal self tonight and that is what it came down to in all aspects of the game.”
The Doubledays took a 2-0 lead with single runs in the second and third innings.
Pablo O’Connor led off the second with a single to center and scored on Carson Shaddy’s RBI double to left field.
In the third, it only took one swing of the bat for the Doubledays to score when major league rehab Moises Sierra barreled up a Michael Baird fastball and deposited it over the left-center field barrier for a 420-foot solo homer.
The Spikes closed the gap to 2-1 in the fourth when Stanley Espinal led off with a single to center and scored on Wayde Ynfanti’s RBI ground out.
Sensing the Spikes hanging around, the Doubledays regained their two-run advantage when Cody Wilson led off with a double and scored on O’Connor’s RBI single to center.
Already leading by a pair, the Doubledays broke the game wide open with four runs in the seventh to go up 7-1.
Before the Doubledays blew the game open, the Spikes had several chances to score, but the lack of siituational hitting let them down.
“When you don’t get the situational hitting, it is difficult in any game, but when you are in a shortened game (7 innings instead of 9), getting behind or not scoring can be damaging to a point,” Kruzel said. “We didn’t make pitches when we needed to, we didn’t make defensive plays when we needed to and we didn’t get hits when we needed them so there is no one area that was at fault. It was just a combination of all of the aspects of our game that led to the results. It is not the normal we play, but unfortunately, that is the way we were today.”
Michael Baird had entered the game with five straight scoreless innings on his log and stretched that scoreless string to six before the Doubledays scored their first two runs of the game.
For his five-plus innings, Baird allowed three runs on six hits, walking one and striking out four.
“Baird gave us a good chance,” Kruzel said. “It was just unfortunate that the game got away from us in the sixth and seventh innings, but in the same regard we need to keep the game under control. When the guys come in from the bullpen you have to stop it. When you come into a game, you have to at least keep the score where it is. It was a 2-1 ball game, but we gave up a run. We just need to keep it a 2-1 ball game. We can’t go out there and walk guys, but today is one of those days where we didn’t play ourselves. Hopefully we can rebound and comeback to play the way we are capable of playing.”
After exploding late in game one, the Doubledays kept the bats moving ahead by putting a crooked number up in the first inning. Auburn parlayed a double and three singles into three runs for the 3-0 lead.
Doing most of the offensive damage to the Spikes were Pablo O’Connor with an RBI single and Jamori Blash with a two-run single.
Winston Nicacio did a good job of damage control in relief of starter Edgar Gonzalez for the Spikes. Nicacio worked 2 2/3 innings, allowing a run while striking out three.
“He came in there in the second inning and the third and fourth and in all fairness to him, he probably ran out of gas a little bit,” Kruzel said. “We are a little thin on the back end right now and hopefully we’ll be able to rebound tomorrow with some of the guys getting some rest to be able to go out there and play hard.”
The two teams will play game 3 of the 4-game series tonight with a single game slated for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.