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Fireworks as Spikes handle Scrappers

NILES, Ohio — A four-hit game from Donivan Williams, Matt Duce’s first professional home run and another stellar pitching effort combined to give the State College Spikes their seventh consecutive win at Eastwood Field in a 7-1 Independence Day victory over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Williams broke out of a .191 start to the season with a 4-for-5 night at the plate, driving in two runs and scoring another in the process. The St. Louis Cardinals’ 2017 14th-round draft choice was the second Spikes (12-8) player with a four-hit game this year, following Pedro Pages’s effort on June 21 at West Virginia.

Duce, the Cardinals’ 2018 ninth-round draft choice out of Dallas Baptist, smashed an 0-1 pitch from Mahoning Valley (11-9) starter Jhonneyver Gutierrez (1-2) over the right-field wall to increase the Spikes’ lead to 5-1.

On the mound, State College racked up double-digit strikeouts as a team for the second straight game, one night after setting a single-game nine-inning record with 18 against Batavia. 2019 fourth-round pick Andre Pallante out of UC Irvine struck out three batters over three-plus innings. Connor Thomas (2-0), the Cardinals’ 2019 fifth-round choice out of Georgia Tech, then whiffed six batters and gave up just two hits over 3 2/3 innings for the win.

Junior Gonzalez finished the evening with two strikeouts over 2 1/3 shutout frames to run the Spikes’ strikeout total to 11 for the game.

Jonatan Machado and Moises Castillo each produced three hits and scored two runs for State College as well. Machado added an RBI to the Spikes’ cause.

Gutierrez yielded four runs on nine hits and a walk over five innings in the loss. The right-hander also struck out one batter.

With the win, the Spikes are now 11-3 on the Fourth of July all-time.

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