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Spikes rally to tie Thunder in 7 innings

UNIVERSITY PARK — State College fell behind early before a three-run home run got the Spikes within striking distance, but the game ultimately resulted in a 6-6 tie with the Trenton Thunder on Tuesday night in an MLB Draft League contest at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The tie was the second in the 15-year history of the Spikes. A rain-shortened regular-season finale in 2019 with the Williamsport Crosscutters was never completed. It took State College 48 games to play to its first tie of the year.

MLB Draft League rules do not allow extra innings and the game was shortened prior to the contest by the league office, with player safety cited as the cause. Today’s game will also be seven innings in the second game of the series with the Thunder. Remaining Tuesday and Wednesday games this season will be seven-inning contests.

“I think that it’s impressive that we’ve played that many games so far — it’s July 27th — and we still didn’t have a tie,” Spikes manager Delwyn Young said. “That’s my first take on it. It’s a part of other sports, why can’t it be a part of ours?”

The Spikes (21-26-1) trailed 5-0 in the fourth inning before Cameron Lee’s first extra-base hit of the season brought State College within two, as he deposited a three-run bomb 400 feet over the left-field wall.

“That guy was throwing a lot of fastballs away and I knew that he was probably going to come with the curveball there,” Lee said. “I saw it the whole way and I put a good swing on it. First extra-base hit is a home run. Gotta love it.”

State College stole eight bases on the night but ultimately could not capitalize on opportunities in the second and fifth innings, leaving the bases loaded in both frames.

The Spikes’ biggest missed opportunity came in the second, as the Spikes had the bases loaded with no outs after a pair of singles by Trent Lewis and Luke Seidel and a walk by Marques Paige. The final three batters of the inning for the Spikes went down swinging to end the threat.

Trenton (25-12-5) got a solo home run by Andrew Cossetti in the first inning before an RBI single by Jonny Weaver and a sacrifice fly by Jordan Wiley gave the Thunder a 3-0 advantage.

Trenton scored two more runs in the fourth on a wild pitch, and Cossetti drove in the fifth run of the game for the Thunder when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. A home run in the fifth by Penn State-Harrisburg product Brent Williams gave Trenton a 6-3 lead.

The Spikes rallied with two runs in the fifth on an error by Trenton’s third baseman Jared DeSantolo that allowed Lukas Cook and Lewis to score to bring the Spikes within one at 6-5. State College tied the game in the sixth after Hylan Hall led off the frame with a ground-rule double to left and later stole third. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Cook.

“It shows their character,” Young said of the comeback. “We spoke to the team today about last week and I felt it was probably one of our better weeks as a team. Even with all the roster turnover that we’ve had, it’s just keep it going. Tonight we only played seven innings, but you still play to that last out. We did that. I try to tell them that day in and day out, hopefully we can put ourselves in a position to win it.”

Lee said that the team felt a sense of urgency in the middle innings because of the shortened game.

“It was going by quickly,” Lee said. “It was about the fifth inning and they were doing a fifth-inning stretch and we just knew we had to put up some runs to get back in the game early because it was only seven innings. We trusted ourselves and trusted our pitchers to do their job and we knew that we would do ours.”

The Spikes had a baserunner with one out in the seventh, but a strikeout and a groundout ended the game.

Hall was the lone Spikes’ player with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with a double, while Lee led the way with three RBIs on the homer. Hall also drove in a run.

Zacchaeus Rasberry and Hall each stole two bags while Cook, Seidel, Paige and Brady Brecklin added to a Spikes’ record eight stolen bases.

“I told them that whatever skill set they have, they should use it,” Young said. “They’re learning how to hit this level of pitching but the base running never stops. It’s trying to be productive with runners. I don’t know how many of those stolen bases turned into runs but I’m sure some of them did. The closer we can get to home, the better off we are.”

The Spikes will host the Trenton Thunder for the second game of a three-game series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park today. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.

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