Spikes win series over Spinners

LOWELL, MA–As far as a first impressions, State College pitcher Michael YaSenka made a pretty good one.

He tossed 6 2/3 innings in his Spikes’ debut, struck out four and Martin Figueroa homered and drove in all four runs as the Spikes dropped the Spinners 4-2 in front of 3,832 fans at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.

The 2019 17th round pick went 5 2/3 no-hit innings before Stephen Scott doubled to right field to end the bid.

Jack Ralston put out a bases loaded, one-out fire that he inherited in the bottom of the eighth and his own bases loaded jam in the ninth for his second save.

“I was just pretty comfortable out there and I was locating well tonight,” YaSenka said. “My pitches didn’t have what they can on them, but I was just locating better than normal tonight for the most part. The runs definitely help the confidence. When you have a lead, it’s easy to comfortably throw pitches in the zone.”

The Spikes (25-24) wasted no time getting on the board.

Terry Fuller blooped a one-out single to center and two batters later, Martin Figueroa blasted a two-out, two-run homer to right-center to make it 2-0 Spikes in the top of the first.

Stanley Espinal singled to right before Red Sox third round pick Ryan Zeferjahn struck out Dariel Gomez looking to end the long top half of the first.

While the long inning was it for Zeferjahn, Spikes starter Michael YaSenka was cruising on the mound.

The righty needed just needed eight pitches to get through the first and a passed ball on a third strike cost him a 1-2-3 second inning.

State College doubled its lead to 4-0 in the top of the third when Figueroa singled off the wall in left to plate a pair of runs, but was thrown out at second by left fielder Scott.

YaSenka breezed through the third and fourth but got in a bit of fifth inning trouble when he issued a pair of walks to put two on with two outs.

He got the No. 9 hitter Antoni Flores to fly out to right field to end the inning and the threat.

YaSenka got the first two batters in the sixth before Scott’s hard hit double ended the no-hit bid and Joe Davis followed with an RBI single to extinguish the shutout.

The right handed got a ground ball to third to end the inning and retain a 4-1 lead.

YaSenka retired the first two hitters in the seventh, but then walked Ricardo Cubillan on four pitchers and gave up an RBI triple to Flores to make it 4-2 and end his night.

The Cardinals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month for July was highly efficient, tossing 87 pitches, 56 for strikes as he struck out four and left the game in line for the win.

“I think I just started to try to be a little too fine with my pitches and that got me into a little bit of trouble,” YaSenka said. “I definitely think I could have gotten out of that inning, but I reached my pitch limit.”

Cameron Dulle got YaSenka out of trouble in the seventh, but got into some of his own in the eighth.

The Spinners (30-18) loaded the bases with a pair of hits and a walk. Ralston came in and got a strikeout and a fly out to right to end the eighth.

Ralston made it interesting in the ninth.

He loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks, but escaped with a flyout to left to end the game and stretch his scoreless streak to 17 1/3 innings to begin his pro career.

“That was unbelievable,” Spikes manager Jose Leon said. “Ralston has been real good for us all this year. To have a flexible guy like that in our bullpen to bring in for the seventh, eighth, ninth inning. He did a really good job tonight.”

The Spikes visit Auburn at 7 p.m. tonight.