Spikes snap eight-game slide

WILLIAMSPORT — For the first six innings of Sunday’s game between State College and Williamsport, the Spikes found themselves clinging to a 1-0 lead over the Crosscutters.

During that time Spikes lefty Eli Kraus and Cutter righty Francisco Morales were matching each other pitch-for-pitch.

It all ended for the Cutters as the Spikes broke out their big bats to pound out 10 hits over the final three innings, putting three crooked numbers on the scoreboard for a 9-1 lead that stood up for the final.

With the win, the Spikes snapped a losing skid that spanned eight games with only the season finale remaining this afternoon.

“It was a well pitched game on both sides early on, and we were fortunate to scratch in a run on (Wadye) Ynfante’s home run,” Spikes manager Joe Kruzel said. “Going into the seventh inning, both teams had like two or maybe three hits. But then we were fortunate to string together some really good at-bats in the last three innings to give us some breathing room.”

Not only did the Spikes go on a hitting rampage, they did it with big sticks that resulted in five doubles and three home runs.

Coming up with the doubles were Brady Whalen, Ynfante, Matt Duce and Delvin Perez with a pair. Chipping in with long balls for the Spikes were Ynfante, Perez and Stanley Espinal.

“A lot of guys contributed tonight and it all started with Kraus and Gonzalez and Hamann got in there for some work,” Kruzel said. “Figgy (Edwin Figuera) had some good at-bats, Espinal had some good at-bats, Whalen was on base a couple of times Duce came with a big hit and Perez came up with a couple of big hits. Those guys really fought in there and it was really good to see because it broke the eight-game losing streak.”

As for the tough times, Kruzel said it was a matter of circumstances.

“We couldn’t catch a break and we couldn’t create a break,” he said. “That is what it came down to. We just fell behind a lot of times and today was the first time we had the lead since our last win. It was good to see that and they seemed to have a lot of energy today and maybe we can do it again tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”

Espinal’s home run was his second of the season at Bowman Field, his first resulting in a walk-off two-run shot earlier in the season.

“I am seeing the ball well and today, I hit it well,” he said. “The first pitcher was throwing good pitches but we kept swinging the bats and eventually hit the ball.”

Kraus picked up his impressive win, the lefty working six innings, scattering four hits, allowing no runs while striking out five and walking just one.

“Duce (State College catcher Matt) and I just worked really hard from the beginning to get ahead,” Kraus explained. “We were getting ahead with both fastballs and curveballs and I was able to move things around the plate. We tried to not repeat any sequences and that helped keep them off balance. As a result, when they did hit the ball, it was usually a weak ground ball or a weak fly ball.”

Although it was a big adjustment from college ball to the pros, Kraus feels that he made big strides in his effort to move up the ladder in the Cardinal organization.

“It was definitely an adjustment period from college to my first year in pro ball,” Kraus said. “Once you get into the swing of things and realize what your role is, it makes easier to adjust to the different situations. You just become a smarter pitcher.”