Ynfante leads Spikes to win over Bears

UNIVERSITY PARK – Stanley Espinal produced his first four-hit game for the State College Spikes and Nick Dunn added three hits as the Spikes topped the West Virginia Black Bears, 8-7, Thursday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for their fifth consecutive victory.

The Spikes’ (24-29) winning streak matches their longest of the 2018 season.

Espinal drove in State College’s first run with a single in the opening frame, then collected three more singles in his next four at-bats. The Santiago, Dominican Republic native also scored a pair of runs.

Trailing 5-2 going into the bottom of the seventh, State College surged for four runs to take the lead. Wadye Ynfante brought in two with a single to right-center field, and an error on the play scored another to tie the game. Ynfante then crossed the plate on a wild fourth ball to Alexis Wilson to make it 6-5.

The Spikes added two more insurance runs on Delvin Perez’s single to center in the eighth, but had to withstand a West Virginia (18-35) rally as New York-Penn League All-Star Mike Gretler doubled in two runs in the ninth to draw the Black Bears within a run.

Kevin Hamann (7) shut down the Black Bears, though, as he got a groundout and a popout with the go-ahead run in scoring position to earn the save.

West Virginia got on the board with Jhoan Herrera’s fourth homer of the year, a solo shot to right field, in the second inning. The Black Bears then scored four runs in the seventh on just one hit to go with four walks and two errors.

Lars Nootbaar added a fifth-inning RBI single for the Spikes.

State College starter Chris Holba allowed just one run on two hits, a walk and a hit batsman while striking out five batters over five innings. Reliever Winston Nicacio (2-2) ended up with the win for the Spikes, pitching two innings without being charged for a run and allowing one hit and two walks, one of them intentional. Nicacio also recorded two strikeotus.

Ryan Valdes (0-1) was charged with the loss in relief, yielding four runs, three of them earned, on four hits and three walks over seven innings. Valdes struck out two batters.

Friday, the Spikes look for their second straight series sweep as they take on the Black Bears in a 7:05 p.m. matchup at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. State College will send left-hander Jacob Schlesener (2-3) to the mound, while West Virginia is scheduled to go with left-hander Zach Spears (0-5).