Late rally lifts Black Bears over Spikes

GRANVILLE, W.V. – Pedro Pages went 4-for-4 with two doubles in just his second professional game, but the State College Spikes dropped a 6-5 decision to the West Virginia Black Bears on Friday night at Monongalia County Ballpark.

Pages, the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2019 sixth-round draft choice out of Florida Atlantic, became the first Spikes (6-2) player with four hits in a game this season. The catcher drove in a run to make it 4-0 with his first double of the game in the sixth inning, then led off State College’s ninth-inning comeback bid with another. Pages also scored a pair of runs.

Carlos Soto’s first-inning solo home run to center field, his first of the season and the Spikes’ seventh as a team in 2019, gave the Spikes the early lead. After Luis Flores scored the second State College run on a wild pitch in the third, Dariel Gomez then extended the advantage to 3-0 with his double in the fourth.

West Virginia (4-4) started its surge in the sixth when Brett Kinneman walked with the bases loaded for its first run. Matt Gorski’s fielder’s choice in the same frame also brought in a run.

In the seventh, Victor Ngoepe doubled in a run to close the margin to one, with Cory Wood’s single one batter later tying the game.

The Black Bears then moved ahead for good on Luke Mangieri’s ground-rule double with the bases loaded in the eighth.

Soto’s two-out RBI single in the ninth kept the Spikes’ hopes alive, but Cameron Junker (1) struck out the next batter, Andrew Warner, to end the game.

State College starter Scott Politz, the Cardinals’ 2019 29th-round choice out of Yale, combined with Jeremy Randolph, the Cardinals’ 2019 26th-round choice out of Alabama, to retire the first nine batters of the game.

Eli Kraus (1-2) took the loss in relief for the Spikes. Kraus yielded three runs on three hits and three walks while striking out two batters over two innings.

West Virginia reliever Brandon Maurer (1-0), a major league veteran making a minor league rehab assignment with the Black Bears, picked up the win after retiring all six batters he faced, five via strikeout.

Junker earned the save after allowing one run on two hits and a walk to close it out in the ninth. The Notre Dame product struck out two batters in his professional debut.

Despite the loss, the Spikes’ 6-2 start still matches the 2012 squad for the best start after eight games in franchise history.

Saturday, the Spikes and Black Bears meet for the middle game of their three-game set at Monongalia County Ballpark. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will feature right-hander Enmanuel Solano (0-0) on the mound for State College against West Virginia right-hander Michael Barrows (1-0).

Following the trio of weekend games in West Virginia, the Spikes will have an off day on Monday before a six-game homestand from Tuesday, June 25 through Sunday, June 30.

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Cleveland Indians) and Auburn Doubledays (Washington Nationals) both come to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for three games apiece.