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Spikes score a baker’s dozen in victory

UNIVERSITY PARK – State College Spikes fans can Fireworks From the Field starting on Friday, but the Spikes got a head start on the fireworks Tuesday night at Eastwood Field behind Lukas Cook’s second home run inside of a week as they topped the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, 13-7.

Cook, a product of Walters State Community College in Tennessee, sent an 0-1 pitch from Mahoning Valley (19-22) starter Jason Rackers (0-1) over the left-center field wall in the third for a two-run shot to increase the Spikes’ (18-24) lead to 3-0. Since the Major League Baseball Draft League’s restart on July 15, Cook is 7-for-18 (.389) at the plate with four runs batted in over five games.

After a wild pitch and subsequent error netted two more runs in the fifth, State College used a pair of big innings to blow the game open. In the sixth, newcomer Trent Lewis singled in one run and Michael Dolcean singled in two more as part of a five-run frame. The Spikes added three more runs, two on walks and one more on a hit batsman, in the seventh to increase their lead to 13-1.

Dolcean drove in a total of three runs in his first game with the Spikes, while Lewis and Marques Paige each knocked in two. Hylan Hall stole two bases, including a steal of home in the first inning, as the Spikes nabbed four bases as a team to improve their single-season team record to 96 steals over 42 games.

The Spikes also has a patient eye at the plate, drawing a total of 11 walks and seeing three runners reach base after being hit by pitch.

Jared Kengott made his first start in his return to State College, allowing one run on two hits and two walks while striking out two batters over 3 1/3 innings. Kiernan Higgins (1-0) then entered the game in the fourth and tossed 2 2/3 innings of scoreless, two-hit ball to earn the win. Higgins struck out five batters in the effort, and reduced his ERA to 0.39 for the season, still the lowest mark for any MLB Draft League pitcher with 20 or more innings.

Rackers started for Mahoning Valley and took the loss after yielding five runs, four of them earned, on a total of seven hits, two walks and a hit batsman over 4 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out six batters on the night.

Jarrod Belbin went 2-for-4 with three runs batted in, and his three-run homer in the eighth served as the centerpiece of the Scrappers’ six-run frame that served as their last gasp of offense.

Wednesday, the Spikes and Scrappers meet in the middle game of their three-game series at Eastwood Field. Starting pitchers have not yet been determined for either team in the 7:05 p.m. matchup.

Following the road trip, the Spikes return home to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park to take on the Williamsport Crosscutters.

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