Holba, Espinal carry Spikes to 12th straight win on the road

NILES, Ohio — Stanley Espinal drove in three runs to key the State College Spikes offense as the Spikes extended their franchise-record road winning streak to 12 in a row with a 5-3 victory over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers to complete a sweep Sunday afternoon at Eastwood Field.

The Spikes (29-31) completed a perfect 6-0 record against the Scrappers (32-28) in road games with the win, and drew to within 5 ¢ games of the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division lead with 16 games remaining in the 2018 regular season.

Espinal started the scoring with a two-out, two-run double in the third inning. Kevin Woodall, Jr. then singled in two more runs to complete State College’s four-run frame.

In the ninth, with two outs, Espinal drove a 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall for his sixth home run of the year to extend the Spikes’ lead back to two runs, and stake himself to the team’s RBI lead with 35 on the season. Espinal also jumped into second place in the NYPL in the category.

Mahoning Valley bounced back after the early 4-0 deficit with a pair of third-inning runs with Jose Fermin’s sacrifice fly and New York-Penn League All-Star Tyler Freeman’s RBI single. The Scrappers added a run in the fifth on a Fermin double, but would get no closer as they took their eighth consecutive defeat.

New York-Penn League All-Star Nick Dunn produced three hits to help the Spikes’ offense.

Chris Holba (3-2) earned the win after allowing three runs, two of them earned, on six hits and a first-inning intentional walk to Freeman. Holba also struck out two batters as he posted his second quality start of six innings or more with three earned runs or less as a professional.

Jim Voyles and Edgar Gonzalez each pitched scoreless innings in relief for State College before Cory Malcom (5) recorded his fifth save in as many opportunities with a shutout ninth. Malcom allowed two walks but also notched one strikeout in the effort.

Scrappers starter Cameron Mingo (2-4) yielded four runs on seven hits and a hit batsman over 3 2/3 innings. Mingo struck out two batters on the day.

The Spikes now come back home for a makeshift doubleheader against the Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia Phillies) tonight at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Spikes and Crosscutters will pick up their suspended game from Thursday, which will restart with State College leading, 3-0, in the fifth inning, at 5:35 p.m. on Monday.