UNIVERSITY PARK — The State College Spikes pitch to contact. The Brooklyn Cyclones are a bold-swinging team when the ball enters the strike zone.
Their styles produce compelling games.
Three Spikes combined for just one strikeout in Sundays 3-2 loss, proving for the second straight game whiffs arent the only prerequisite to remain competitive.
In two games against the McNamara Division-leading Cyclones, the Spikes staff has registered just two strikeouts.
The meager strikeout totals havent prevented the Spikes from entering desirable ninth-inning positions. Like they did in Saturdays 6-3 loss, the Spikes brought the winning run to the plate Sunday.
The game ended with Chris Diaz flying out to right fielder Jonathan Clark. D.J. Crumlich, who singled to begin the inning, stood on second base when Clark glided toward the foul line and squeezed his glove.
The ninth included some strategical ploys as Spikes manager Dave Turgeon ordered Jacob Stallings to sacrifice bunt. Stallings, who doubled to right-center in the sixth, complied and quickly moved Crumlich to second.
These guys always compete, Turgeon said. We bunted him over for a reason. We had the tying run at first. It was a huge risk. Stallings is swinging the bat real well.
The Spikes (14-13) are competing against a refined team.
Brooklyn (16-11) entered Saturday with a .231 team batting average, but the Cyclones .337 on-base percentage was the New York-Penn Leagues third best.
Pitchers such as Spikes starter Jason Creasy havent allowed the Cyclone hitters to work deep into counts. One night after Clay Holmes threw 61 pitches in five innings, Creasy threw 67 in the same stretch.
Creasy allowed seven hits and three runs. He didnt strike anybody out, and the Spikes only trailed 3-1 when he left the game after Barrett Barnes fourth-inning homer.
(Saturday) they only had one strikeout, Creasy said. You could tell from that they swung a lot.
Creasy and the Spikes starters have combined for four strikeouts in 24 innings in the past five games. The Spikes are 3-2 during the stretch, sweeping Staten Island before running into the Cyclones. The meager strikeout totals arent causing panic because starters are following the Pittsburgh Pirates aggressive organizational pitching philosophy.
Most of us try to pitch to contact, Creasy said. Thats our main goal. We have done a good job of hanging in there.
Creasy stayed competitive on a night when rain delayed the first pitch by 1 hour, 59 minutes. The wait didnt seem to bother either team because Medlar Fields clubhouses are considered plush by short-season Class A standards.
Strike-throwers and bold-swingers on both sides the Spikes only struck out four times against Brooklyns Luis Cessa and Matthew Bowman resulted in a brisk, 2-hour, 15-minute game.
Relievers Logan Pevny and Kyle Haynes each pitched two scoreless innings, allowing the Spikes to scrap back into the game. Pevny had the Spikes only strikeout, using a curveball to fan Dimas Ponce in the seventh.
We definitely realized they were swinging early in counts and hunting fastballs, Haynes said. That can play into your advantage as a pitcher. Keep it down and out of the middle of the plate, and you should be fine.
Brooklyn center fielder Brandon Nimmo, the New York Mets 2011 first-round draft pick, has relished the Spikes fill-the-zone tactics. Nimmo, the highest drafted player from Wyoming, a state with no high school baseball, is 4-for-7 with two doubles in the series.
Nimmo was one of four Cyclones to double Sunday. Nimmo and Jonathan Clark hit consecutive doubles to begin Brooklyns two-run third Sunday. Both players scored. Dimas Ponce then doubled and scored in the fifth.
Haynes and Pevny combined to allow just two hits in the final four innings.
We really pitched well enough to win, Turgeon said. I was happy with how the bullpen held. They are pitching to contact obviously. We caught the ball well, too. We fell a little short. We played OK. We competed.
The teams complete their three-game series tonight.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy