Pages turns game to Spikes

STATE COLLEGE — Pedro Pages is one of the top catchers in the New York-Penn League and on Friday night, he proved it to all the fans at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Pages broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run double, giving the State College Spikes a 5-3 victory over Batavia in game one of a two-game series.

Pages was the hero, going 2-for-4 with the game-winning double and three RBIs, raising his average to .298 on the season. He also threw a runner out at second in the fifth inning.

“Pedro is having a great season. He works hard on his game and he keeps getting better,” State College manager Jose Leon said. “He had the reputation as a solid hitting catcher, but he has improved as a defensive catcher as well.”

State College (27-26) cut into Batavia’s lead in the Pinkney Division. The Muckdogs (31-23) hold a game lead over West Virginia and a 3.5-game advantage on the Spikes.

“We need to keep playing hard and good things will continue to happen,” Leon said. “We need to come out tomorrow with the same fire, be aggressive and try to get the sweep.”

Cameron Dulle recorded his first win for State College in an inning of relief. Jack Ralston, the seventh-round pick out of UCLA, picked up his third save of the season. He has not allowed a run in 11 appearances. Edison Suriel (2-2) took the loss for the Muckdogs.

State College pitchers took a bend but don’t break attitude into the game. Spikes pitchers Adrian Mardueno, Jeremy Randolph, Dulle and Ralston gave up 12 hits, but the quartet fanned 12 and walked one.

“It wasn’t the best performance. It wasn’t pretty, but our guys did what they had to on the mound,” Leon said. “Batavia is one of the best hitting teams in the league, so we knew they would get their hits. Even so, we only gave up the three runs and put up a lot of strikeouts tonight. Our pitching was solid.”

Batavia drew first blood when Andrew Turner, who had two hits in the game, singled to right and later scored on a knock by Michael Fernandez for the 1-0 lead in the second.

The Spikes answered with a run in the bottom of the frame. Donavin Williams ripped a 2-0 fastball over the left-field fence for his first homer of the season.

The Muckdogs regained the lead with a run in the fourth. Turner doubled and came home on a single by Milton Smith III. Smith led Batavia with three hits.

State College took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Terry Fuller doubled to start things off and Pages brought him home with a two-bagger to left for his 14th double of the season. Pages would later score on a wild pitch giving the Spikes the 3-2 advantage.

After going scoreless through the middle innings, Batavia tied it up with a run in the eighth off Dulle. Nic Ready hit a solo jack to deep left for his sixth homer of the season. Dulle redeemed himself by getting out of the inning with the Muckdogs having runners on second and third with one out.

The Spikes had the right response once again when a pitch hit Moises Castillo and David Vinsky reached on a fielder’s choice, setting up the late-game heroics by Pages.

“We want to continue to play hard, give a hundred percent every night and whatever happens, happens,” Leon said. “As long as we play hard that’s what matters. As long as the guys are healthy and playing the right way, I’m okay with that.”

State College goes after the series sweep against Batavia today at 7:05 p.m.