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Spikes tally 4 in 5th to top Thunder

UNIVERSITY PARK –The State College offense was held in check by Trenton’s Jake Mulholland for four innings, but like it did on Tuesday night, State College rallied to erase a multi-run deficit and claw its way back into the game. The Spikes edged the Thunder 4-3, in seven innings in a clutch win at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Wednesday night in an MLB Draft League matchup.

“That’s why we play all outs,” Spikes’ manager Delwyn Young said. “It was a pitcher’s duel and it’s remarkable that we can win with two hits.”

Zacchaeus Rasberry provided the biggest hit, of the two for the Spikes, giving them a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning, as he drove in a pair of runs on a two-out single.

A week ago, the Spikes went 4-2, including a three-game sweep at Mahoning Valley, which Young believes sparked his team’s recent success.

“This week is a byproduct of what happened last week,” Young said. “What I see is that they’re starting to believe in themselves, regardless of the outs, regardless of the score.”

Mulholland, an Oregon State product, was dominant in his four innings of work, retiring the first 10 batters of the game and facing the minimum in his start. He struck out seven Spikes, all of which went down swinging.

The First-Team All-Pac 12 pitcher did not light up the radar gun, but Mulholland used his pinpoint accuracy to keep Spikes hitters on their toes when they stepped into the box, consistently getting them to swing at borderline pitches.

Mulholland was pulled after four innings of great pitching in favor of Brogan Beckner, who immediately ran into trouble. As a former MLB player and working in the sport since, Young has seen countless games play out like the one the Spikes played in on Wednesday.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it, but as soon as the starter who was rolling comes out, the bullpen comes in and the offense is like ‘Thank God,” Young said. “Our guys were relieved to have someone else to swing at.”

To lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, Trent Lewis got the rally started by drawing a walk and he advanced to second on a double into the right-center field gap off the bat of Marques Paige. Beckner responded by striking out Luke Seidel and getting Darryl Loyd III to ground into a fielder’s choice.

Beckner was one out away from working out of the jam, but he lost control of the plate, walking Brady Brecklin, Max Guadalupe and Hylan Hall to push across two runs for the Spikes, tying the game.

“We took some walks. We ran some bases and that’s one of the things we’re trying to do–work a walk when it presents itself, take a bag when it presents itself. Be aggressive on the bases and don’t let up,” Young explained.

Beckner was pulled from the game and Alec Whaley came in with the bases loaded with two outs.

With the game knotted at two, Rasberry smacked a hit into right field to plate Brecklin and Guadalupe to put the Spikes up 4-2.

“I was just trying to stay simple… not trying to do too much,” Rasberry said about his clutch at-bat. “Everyone was trying to work to get some baserunners and I got a pretty big hit that was a big part of the game.”

Dalton Oates also had a good showing on the mound, but the State College lefty made two mistakes all night, and the Thunder jumped all over those mistakes.

After trading zeroes with Mulholland for the first three innings, Oates plunked shortstop Jordan Wiley, to start off the fourth inning. Wiley advanced to second base on a groundout to second, for the inning’s first out. Oates battled to strike out Jeff Manto and was an out away from stranding a runner in scoring position.

Luis Vargas stepped into the box and promptly hit a towering shot down the left-field line that managed to stay fair and put the Thunder up 2-0.

In the top of the sixth, Wiley crushed a home run over the batters’ eye in center field to pull the Thunder within a run, trailing 4-3.

Austin Cheeley relieved Oates and closed out the game for the Spikes, recording the final five outs, en route to a save and a 4-3 win in favor of State College. Cheeley worked his way around two baserunners in the second by coaxing a game-ending, 4-6-3 double play.

Even with the fast-paced roster scrambles that Young and his team have faced all season, the Spikes’ manager notices how much of a tight-knit group his players have become and how that brotherhood has translated into a solid second half.

“The biggest thing is the comradery in there,” Young said. “If they have comradery and can believe in themselves–that’s the results that we are seeing.”

NOTES

TRENTON: The Thunder starting pitcher Jake Mulholland had a terrific season at Oregon State. He recorded 13 saves, batters hit .198 against him, tallying 23 hits in 34.2 innings. Only four of those hits went for extra bases. For his efforts, Mulholland was named to the First Team All-Pac 12 team and was a Second-Team All-American.

STATE COLLEGE: The Spikes improve to 12-11-1 at home this season, with their first tie coming on Tuesday night.

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