UNIVERSITY PARK — The bunt was absolutely picture perfect, coming to rest precisely on the first base line.
It was that kind of a night for the State College Spikes.
A night after seemingly everything went wrong in pitching, fielding and hitting, the Spikes got their game back on track in all three areas Thursday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Walker Gourley was 3-for-5 while scoring four runs, Joely Rodriguez was effective on the mound and a perfectly-placed bunt helped break the game open as State College got the best of Jamestown 9-3.
“Top to bottom tonight we really had competitive at-bats as a team,” said Gourley, who upped his average to .263. “We handled our situations well.”
D.J. Crumluch added a single and double while Jacob Stallings tripled in the win.
Rodriguez gave up six hits and two runs while striking out two over five innings to improve to 3-1.
The team will remain home for a two-game series against the Pinckney Division-leading Auburn Doubledays beginning at 7:05 p.m. today. The Doubledays hold a 31/ 2-game lead over the third-place Spikes in the division standings in the New York-Penn League.
Cody Keefer, Jesus Solorzano, Viosergy Rosa and Sharif Othman all had a pair of hits for the Jammers.
Starter Blake Logan (1-1) gave up two runs and two hits in just two innings of work for the loss.
During Wednesday night’s 9-2 loss to Jamestown, the Spikes played miserably pretty much everywhere.
There was wild pitching, fielding errors, mental errors and lackluster hitting as they struck out 14 times, and manager Dave Turgeon called a pregame meeting Thursday to get everyone reset.
“I thought this team was at a crossroads,” said Turgeon, whose team had lost two straight and 11 of its last 16. “Everything kind of came to a head last night. I challenged the group to come to work today and respond to getting beat down in every phase of the game last night. We had a ‘Coming to Jesus’ talk out here.”
Turgeon said he did not raise his voice during the session.
“I don’t believe in piling on,” he said. “I do believe in speaking truth, speaking from the heart. They know where I’m coming from at all times.”
On Thursday, State College pounded out 10 hits, was error free in the field with two runners picked off and another runner thrown out at second by right fielder Jesus Vasquez, and Spike pitchers did a solid job by allowing just one walk, though Jamestown collected 11 hits.
“You get beaten down like that, you come back, you always want to battle back and have a good game after that,” said Chris Diaz. “It was just a positive attitude all throughout the clubhouse.”
It was Diaz’s bunt that helped put the Spikes comfortably ahead.
Already up 3-0 and with runners on the corners, Gourley anxiously waited at third to break for the plate as Diaz held his bat out for a safety squeeze. The ball was popped up short of and to the right of Jammers pitcher Chipper Smith, and showed the kind of backspin you expect from a Phil Mickelson wedge shot. Gourley crossed the plate as the ball rolled to a dead stop right on the white first base stripe, leaving Diaz safe at first.
“(I was) trying to put the ball down in play,” Diaz said. “(I was trying to) get the pitcher moving so Gourley could score right there. It worked out a little better than that.”
“That’s the toughest read — kind of the in-between (popup),” Gourley said. “Diaz put it in a good spot on the line, so that made the read a little bit easier.”
Two batters later and with the bases loaded, Samuel Gonzalez stroked a single to left field to bring home two more runs and give State College a 6-0 lead.
A Crumlich RBI ground-out had plated the first run in the inning, and State College also got a pair of runs in the bottom of the first when Gourley had a one-out single, Crumlich brought him home with a double and Crumlich scored on an error.
“That was huge,” Turgeon said of the first-inning scores. “It allows Joely to get in a little rhythm as well.”
The Spikes also got two runs in the fourth with an RBI triple to the wall in right-center for Stallings, who came home moments later on a passed ball. Gourley also reached on an error in the sixth, eventually scoring on a ground out.
The Jammers got two runs in the fourth when Michael Main doubled and scored on a Keefer single, with Keefer later scoring on a Rosa double in Rodriguez’s only rough stretch of the night.
A final run crossed in the ninth when Keefer doubled and scored on a Solorzano rocket single off the wall in right-center.
Notes: Turgeon said outfielder Barrett Barnes will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his lower leg. The June supplemental first-round draft pick from Texas Tech, who was hitting .288 with team-highs of five homers and 24 RBIs, has not played since July 30 at Lowell. “He’s got no chance of playing again this year,” Turgeon said Wednesday night. “He’s not going to play anymore for us this year, I can tell you that. It’s going to be a stretch to have him play in the Instructional League.” … While Rodriguez was pretty good with his pitching Thursday, he also knows how to take care of the occasional opponent if they reach base. The lefthander picked off a pair of runners, giving him five over his last two home games. … The team’s second “Bark in the Park” night of the year drew 407 dogs to the stadium, to go along with 3,727 humans. … Adrian Sampson (0-0) will pitch for the Spikes tonight against the Double-days’ Ivan Pineyro (2-1).