Vinsky’s walk-off single lifts State College over Black Bears

STATE COLLEGE — The State College Spikes, in the throes of a playoff hunt, erased a 3-1 deficit in the ninth with a trio of runs capped by David Vinsky’s bases-loaded, walk-off single to take a 4-3 victory from the West Virginia Black Bears on Sunday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The Spikes (35-33) cut their deficit in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division to two games with the win. State College is now in third place behind the division leader, Batavia, with West Virginia (36-31) still a half-game back.

Trailing 3-0 after the first inning, the Spikes whittled the lead down in the fourth when Pedro Pages hit a solo home run, his second of the season, down the left field line that sneaked inside the foul pole.

Pages then jumpstarted the State College rally in the ninth with a leadoff ground-rule double, his third hit of the game. Following a Stanley Espinal single to put runners on first and second, Dariel Gomez drew a walk to load the bases and Shane Benes went in to pinch-run for him.

Brandon Purcell then doubled to right field to bring in two runs and tie the game. Three batters later, after an intentional walk to Brylie Ware and a strikeout by Luis Flores, Vinsky bounced the first pitch he saw deep in the hole on the left side, and Benes slid into home ahead of the despearation throw by West Virginia shortstop Victor Ngoepe for the winning run.

The Spikes stayed in the game thanks to another outstanding performance by starting pitcher Scott Politz. Politz went a career-long eight innings, becoming the 10th pitcher in Spikes history go that long in a single game one night after Enmanuel Solano did the same in Batavia. The right-hander yielded three runs, all in the second inning, on six total hits while striking out six batters.

Fabian Blanco (3-0) struck out one batter in a perfect ninth inning to earn credit for the win.

West Virginia took the opening lead of the game when Brendt Citta singled in one run and Ngoepe tripled in two more in the second. Citta was the lone Black Bear with multiple hits.

Reliever Garrett Leonard (2-1) took the loss after allowing all three Spikes runs in the ninth. Leonard went a total of 1 1/3 innings and gave up four hits and three walks, one of them intentional, while striking out two batters.

The Spikes look to continue their push for the postseason in a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the Black Bears on Monday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. New York-Penn League All-Star Andre Pallante (1-0) gets the start for the Spikes in what will be the right-hander’s first outing since the All-Star Game. West Virginia will have right-hander J.C. Flowers (0-0) on the mound.