UNIVERSITY PARK — The way Luis Heredia was dealing on the mound Tuesday afternoon, it was going to take something shocking to knock him off his rhythm.
A line drive off his shoulder did the trick briefly.
Heredia gave up a home run two pitches later, but then settled back into his groove for another masterful outing for the State College Spikes.
The big right-hander pitched five solid innings, the defense did its part behind him and the Spikes hung on for a 4-3 win over the Batavia Muckdogs on a hot afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Jared Lakind hit a two-run single, Jacob Stallings continued his hot hitting with a pair of hits including an RBI double, Tyler Gaffney ripped a pair of doubles and Barrett Barnes added an RBI single.
With the win the Spikes (20-16) leapfrogged the Muckdogs (19-16) in the New York-Penn Leagues Pinckney Division standings, taking over second place, 11/ 2 games behind leader Auburn.
The Spikes lone noon home start of the season, played on humid day with the thermometer reaching close to 90, still drew 3,243 fans though few of them were actually in their seats. With a super splash day promotion, a pumper truck from Alpha fire company had a hose spraying flocks of children throughout the game in one corner of the stadium.
Heredia (2-0) gave up just two hits and no walks to earn the win, striking out two while delivering an efficient 57 pitches in his sixth straight start pitching at least five innings.
He had a little life on his fastball today, said Stallings, the teams catcher. His changeup was really good. Whenever he has his fastball and changeup working, hes really tough to hit.
He had faced the minimum number of batters through three innings, giving up a single in the third with the runner later erased on an
unusual double play. With one out, Gary Apelian struck out and Adam Lewis, who had singled, tried to steal second. Stallings throw sailed into center field, but Apelian was called for interfering with the catcher, ending the inning.
Then in the fourth, leadoff hitter Alex Mejia lined the ball square off the back of Heredias right arm, though it bounced right to first baseman Lakind for the out.
I was thinking, Oh my God, Heredia said of the comebacker, which had him shaken briefly.
For like 10 seconds, Heredia said. But I feel really good.
The 17-year-old phenom, who entered the game with the second-best ERA in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system, got a visit from the team trainer, took a couple warm-up pitches and then everyone relaxed.
I trust what we see, manager Dave Turgeon said. I saw the stuff didnt really go away. I thought that the stuff stayed the same. ... When that happens sometimes theres a spike in adrenaline and that might have been the reason the ball did get up for one hitter but when he came back out (in the fifth) his stuff was down and effective again.
He did get a pitch up to the next batter, on his second delivery after the comebacker, which Breyvic Valera deposited over the wall in right-center field.
He was trying a little too hard, prove he wasnt hurt type of thing, Stallings said. Once he calmed down he started getting guys out like he had been. He was fine, luckily. It could have been a lot worse.
Heredia said after the game he was expecting to see a big welt on his arm today, but he will be fine.
Im good, he said. Im ready to pitch.
The Spikes offense delivered a few shots to grab an early lead.
Stallings and Alex Fuselier began the second inning with walks, and they were moved up by a Chris Diaz sacrifice bunt. With the infield drawn in, Lakind then lined the ball over the head of pitcher Kyle Helisek to allow both runners to score.
State College found a little two-out magic in the third, with D.J. Crumlich reaching on a single and then racing all the way around to score when Stallings roped the ball to the bast of the wall in the left-field corner for a double.
I saw a first-pitch fast ball and I put it off the wall, Stallings said. I was on the fastball good today so thats what we try to do.
The Spikes added an insurance run which proved quite necessary, when Gaffney doubled to center field and scored on Barnes single. Barnes tried to swipe second on the Muckdogs throw to the plate to try to catch Gaffney, but the relay throw cut down Barnes to end the inning.
Spikes relievers Logan Pevny and Tom Harlan did their part to preserve Heredias effort with a combined three hitless, shutout innings, but Batavia brought a little drama in the ninth.
With one out Valera reached on an infield hit and Patrick Wisdom followed with a single that center fielder Fuselier bobbled to let Valera take third. After a strikeout, Jesus Montero fly to left-center was just out of reach of a diving Walker Gourley for a two-run triple, but Jordan Cooper then got Garrett Wittels to fly out to Fuselier to leave the tying run at third.
Gordon Brunskill can be reached at 231-4608.