Spikes’ offense tames Scrappers

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The State College Spikes trailed Tuesday night’s game on three different occasions, but a six-run eighth inning capped a 15-hit outburst and sent the Spikes past the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, 13-9, at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Down 9-7 after allowing three runs in the top half of the eighth, the Spikes (7-4) brought eight batters to the plate before an out was recorded in the bottom half. Carlos Soto’s two-run double tied the game and Stanley Espinal followed him by doubling home two more runs.

After back-to-back walks loaded the bases, 2019 23rd-round draft choice Brylie Ware completed a four-RBI night with a single to center to bring in two runs and end the scoring. Ware, a product of the University of Oklahoma, had also doubled in two runs in the seventh to give the Spikes the lead.

Espinal finished the game just a home run shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a walk and scoring three runs himself.

Andres Luna and Pedro Pages also produced multi-hit games, with each knocking in two runs as well. Jonatan Machado, who rejoined the Spikes during the off day on Monday after finishing the 2018 season in State College, went 3-for-4 with a walk in his return to the club.

The Spikes needed quite a bit of offense to outpace Mahoning Valley’s (7-4) George Valera, who served as a one-man wrecking crew on Tuesday. Valera went 4-for-5 and drove in the Scrappers’ first six runs while finishing just a triple shy of the cycle. The Queens, New York native also smashed a three-run homer to center field in the fifth inning off Spikes reliever Scott Politz to give Mahoning Valley the advantage.

The win ended a three-game losing streak for State College and served as their third straight home victory.

Connor Thomas (1-0), the St. Louis Cardinals 2019 fifth-round draft choice out of Georgia Tech, earned the win in his professional debut. Thomas gave up a total of three runs in relief on five hits while striking out one batter.

Mahoning Valley reliever Juan Paredes (0-1) took the loss after giving up six runs on five hits, a walk and a hit batsman over just two-thirds of an inning.

The Spikes and Scrappers will meet in the middle game of their three-game series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Wednesday night. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will feature right-hander Michael Baird (2-0) on the mound for State College against Mahoning Valley right-hander Liam Jenkins (0-0).