UNIVERSITY PARK — Hudson Valley must have remembered Wednesday’s game against State College very well, because it followed almost exactly the same script against the Spikes on Thursday night.
Just like Wednesday, the Renegades broke up a close pitching duel with a three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning and then hung on for a 4-2 victory at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, extending the Spikes’ losing skid to five games.
This time, trailing 2-1 going into the eighth inning, the Renegades took advantage of a wild streak by State College reliever Clario Perez and pushed across three runs to go ahead 4-2. Tommy Coyle tied the game with an RBI double and Luke Maile put the Renegades ahead for good with an RBI single.
After Ryan Dunn’s sacrifice fly gave Hudson Valley a two-run lead, Marcus Jensen and Shay Crawford retired the Spikes in order over the final two innings to secure the win.
“I think right now we got some guys scuffling, some guys missing,” Spikes coach Dave Turgeon said. “Right now, this is a big-time character, gut-check time for the guys who are still in the lineup. Those guys are getting an opportunity to play are going to have to step up. That’s the only way that this kind of thing ends. And we are going to get healthy here in the next four or five days.
“The key is can we hand around and make a run. I think we can.”
State College starter Jason Creasy pitched 42/ 3 effective innings, snuffing out Renegade threats and giving up only a run on four hits.
The Renegades threatened in the top of the second when they put two runners on with one out. Maile led off the inning with a walk, and after Ryan Dunn flew out to left field, Leonardo Reginatto singled to left to put runners on first and second. Creasy then struck out Marty Gantt and Deshun Dixon to end the inning and the threat.
State College came back with a threat of its own in the bottom of the second. Jacob Stallings led off with a sharp double down the right field line. Chris Diaz sacrificed him to third base, giving the Spikes two chances to score its first run.
Renegade pitcher Taylor Guirrieri, the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2011 first-round pick, struck out Jesus Vasquez and Jared Lakind to get out of the inning unscathed.
In the fifth, Dixon led off with a double to left and moved to third when Jake DePew flew out to right field. Creasy then got Joey Rickard to pop up to third base and could see his way out of the inning. His first pitch to Tommy Coyle, however, was outside and low and skipped by catcher Jacob Stallings for a wild pitch. Dixon scored as Hudson Valley took a 1-0 lead.
“I felt pretty good” Creasy said, “but my command really wasn’t there. I just kept trying to pound the zone each inning.”
The Spikes got a break in the bottom of the fifth that allowed them to tie the game. After two routine outs, Jodaneli Carvajal reached first after an error by Reginatto at third, and then promptly stole second base.
He moved to third base on an infield hit by Tyler Gaffney and then tied the game at 1-1 when he scored after a wild pitch by Guerrieri.
The Spikes took their first lead in the sixth, thanks to good execution. Samuel Gonzalez led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by D.J. Crumlich, and then scored on a two-out RBI single by Chris Diaz that put State College ahead 2-1.
“It’s not like Diaz is smoking the ball right now,” Turgeon said, “but he found a way. And he’s been doing that this year. He doesn’t have a lot of RBIs, but they all count.”
Perez ran into trouble immediately in the eighth inning. He began with a hit batter and then two consecutive wild pitches and a walk.
Rickard reached to lead off the inning when he was hit by a pitch. He moved to second and then to third after the consecutive wild pitches by Perez. Justin O’Connor eventually walked, putting runners at the corners with no outs.
Coyle tied the game with a RBI double, and Hudson Valley took the lead on Maile’s RBI single. Dunn followed with a sacrifice fly that made the score 4-2, still with only one out, and chased Perez in favor of Pat Ludwig.
Ludwig was able to get the final two outs without further damage, but the Renegades took a 4-2 lead with their second consecutive three-run eighth inning.
Jensen then came on to pitch a perfect eighth inning for the Renegades, and Crawford wrapped things up with a 1-2-3 ninth.
“I like this team a lot,” Turgeon added. “There is a lot of character in that locker room. No one is going away. No one is panicking. We have fun every day at work. We play loose. We’ll be back tomorrow. We will be ready to play at 7 o’clock, I will tell you that.”