Spikes halt losing skid at Mahoning Valley

ILES, Ohio — Stanley Espinal’s three-run double in the fifth inning gave the State College Spikes the lead as they held on for a 4-3 victory over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers to stop a six-game losing streak Sunday at Eastwood Field.

Espinal’s two-out, bases-loaded extra-base hit to left-center field broke a 1-1 tie and helped propel State College (20-29) to its fifth consecutive victory on the road.

Mahoning Valley (29-18), the team with the New York-Penn League’s best record, threatened late. Jose Fermin hit his second home run of the year when a fly ball to left field ricocheted off of the glove of Spikes left fielder Lars Nootbaar and over the short fence in front of the State College bullpen to make it 4-2.

Henry Pujols then drove in a run in the ninth to bring the Scrappers within one, but Gabe Gentner (1) notched back-to-back strikeouts to seal the win for State College.

The Spikes trailed early after Mitch Reeves gave Mahoning Valley the lead in the first inning with a sacrifice fly to center field. However, Justin Toerner led off the fourth with a walk, stole second, reached third on an error and scored on Kevin Woodall, Jr.’s single to left-center field to tie the game.

Toerner reached base four times during the game, including three walks, to extend his on-base streak to 15 games.

Jacob Schlesener (2-3) delivered an outstanding start on the mound for State College, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk for the win. Schlesener also struck out nine batters, a season high for any Spikes pitcher in a single outing and one shy of the franchise’s single-game record.

The left-hander led the way in a 16-strikeout performance for the State College staff, with Will Chanagrotty adding four punchouts over two innings of relief and Gentner totaling three strikeouts in the ninth while yielding one run on three hits for his first save.

The Spikes now look to continue their momentum tonight when they face the Scrappers in the middle game of a three-game set at Eastwood Field. First pitch is set to fly at 7:05 p.m., and State College will send right-hander Franyel Casadilla (1-1) to the mound.

Mahoning Valley is slated to send a new addition, left-hander Yeffersson Yannuzzi, to the hill. Yannuzzi is scheduled to join the Scrappers tomorrow from the Cleveland Indians’ number-one affiliate in the Arizona League prior to his start.