Auburn gets win with a tiebreaker

UNIVERSITY PARK — Auburn broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the eighth to hand the State College Spikes the 5-3 loss on a muggy Friday evening at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The defeat snapped a five-game home winning streak for State College.

Phil Caufield started the big inning with an infield single off Spikes reliever Junior Gonzalez. Caldioli Sanfler followed with a double off the right-field fence. Jose Sanchez cracked a base hit to center, plating Caufield for his second RBI of the game. Andrew Pratt doubled to left scoring Sanfler to make it 3-1.

The Doubledays (6-7) kept the pressure on when Sanchez scored on a wild pitch and Eric Senior brought home Pratt with an infield single.

“Things got away from us in that inning, but our team never, ever gives up. We kept fighting until the end,” Spikes manager Jose Leon said. “Tomorrow’s a new day and we will focus on coming back and playing better.”

State College mounted a rally in the ninth when Luis Flores walked and Andres Luna reached on an error. Moises Castillo ripped an RBI single to left bringing home Flores. Any hopes of a comeback ended when Carlos Soto struck out and Stanley Espinal hit into a game-ending double play.

Auburn got on the scoreboard first thanks to the generosity of the Spikes. Sanfler went to first after being hit by a pitch and moved over to third on a two-base throwing error by State College shortstop Dariel Gomez. Sanchez brought Sanfler home with a sacrifice fly to center making it 1-0 Doubledays after one.

The Spikes (9-5) tied it up with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Donivan Williams started things with a single to center. Gomez followed with a knock to left moving Williams to third. Cameron Knight reached on an RBI fielder’s choice, scoring Williams.

State College added a run in the eighth when Williams walked, stole second and came home on an error by Senior in left.

Spikes starting pitcher Jacob Schlesener had a stellar outing in the no-decision. He gave up one unearned run on two hits with five strikeouts and three walks in six-plus innings of work. At one point, Schlesener retired 13 consecutive batters.

“The first inning didn’t go the way I wanted it to go when they got the early lead. It’s my job to keep us in the game. Our offense picks us up about every game right now,” Schlesener said. “Today was my day to pick us up and keep us in the game as long as possible. Soto did a great job behind the plate and my defense played amazing. I wanted to keep my pitch count low, pound the zone and see how many innings I could go. We just came up a little short today.”

Leon had nothing but praise for his starting pitcher, who had his best outing of the young season.

“That’s what we are looking for from him. He’s a competitor and he’s done a real good job,” Leon said. “We are looking for him to be competitive and keep getting better.”

The Spikes lost a golden opportunity to score in the third. State College loaded the bases with one out on singles by Luna, Castillo and Soto. Auburn starting pitcher Niomar Gomez ended the threat with consecutive strikeouts of Espinal and Andrew Warner.

“We have to be aggressive in those situations. We need to be a little more focused and execute a little better,” Leon said. “Our guys are going to come out tomorrow, battle and play solid baseball.”

Gilberto Chu (1-1) picked up the win in relief for the Doubledays with Jairon Peguero picking up the save. Gonzalez (1-1) suffered the loss for the Spikes.

Castillo led State College with three hits and Soto had two. Pratt collected two hits for Auburn. Both teams struggled to bring home runs. The Spikes left 16 on base with the Doubledays stranding 14.

“We got a little bit anxious with men on base today. That’s the game. You have to take advantage of opportunities and we didn’t do that,” Leon said. “It’s still early in the season and we have to keep playing hard and see what happens tomorrow.”

State College hosts Auburn in the middle game of the series today at 7:05 p.m.