UNIVERSITY PARK — When a position player is on the mound, things can’t be going too well for the team playing defense.
Tuesday night, with his team trailing by 13, State College Spikes infielder Jimmy Rider got the call. He floated around 77 miles per hour, got a ground out and even forced a double play in his one inning of work. The Spikes players did get a good laugh out of it, but unfortunately for State College, it meant the game had been pretty much settled.
A five-run fifth and a four-run third helped open things up for the Auburn Doubledays, who took their second straight game against State College 16-4 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“I just wanted to throw some strikes to get the inning over with,” Rider said. “It was a rough game for us. So I don’t really know.”
Spikes starter Joely Rodriguez lasted just 22/ 3 innings, surrendering six runs — four earned — on seven hits and a walk. Lance Breedlove’s luck wasn’t much better, giving up another two runs on three hits in 11/ 3 innings of work. Ryan Hafner, a 17th-round pick in his second year with the Spikes, lasted just an inning and surrendered four earned on five hits.
Auburn found some timely pitching from starter Nicholas Lee. He scattered three runs on four hits over five innings and managed to strand the Spikes with the bases loaded in the fourth, after leaving runners on first and second in the opening frame.
“Once momentum gets in your dugout, funny things happen, and when you don’t, then you don’t pitch it, and it snowballs around the other way,” manager Dave Turgeon said. “Offensively, you have a different mindset when you’re losing by six then when it’s a tie score ... When you’re down, you try to do too much.”
Every Auburn starter had at least one hit, and seven had multi-hit games. Second baseman Tony Renda had just one, but drove in three runs, and third baseman Carlos Lopez had three hits and four runs.
The Doubledays scored two in the first, but the Spikes rebounded the very next inning and loaded the bases with no outs. Jacob Stallings walked to score Walker Gourley, and Chris Diaz hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Samuel Gonzalez to even the game at 2-2.
In the top of the third, Auburn’s Brandon Miller doubled home Shawn Pleffner, who had doubled and stole third. After a strikeout, Rodriguez gave up a two-run homer to Wander Ramos -— his sixth of the season — over the left field fence and into the second level of the Pepsi Pavilion. Another hit, and then an error on Diaz, and Rodriguez came out in favor of Breedlove. Spencer Kieboom then singled home Lopez, who got under a tag after a laser from Jesus Vasquez in right field, but Breedlove then worked out of it to keep the game 6-2.
The Doubledays blew the game open in top of the fifth with five runs on five hits. Renda hit a two-run double in that frame to lead the way.
Ahead by 10 in the seventh, the Doubledays scored another run after third baseman D.J. Crumlich short-hopped a throw that got by Gonzalez at first, and Renda plated another run with a sacrifice fly.
Vasquez doubled home Crumlich in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Spikes their fourth run of the night.
The Spikes will look to avoid the sweep tonight as the team closes out a three-game set with the Doubledays. They will then head to Jamestown to open a four-game series with the Jammers, one being a makeup, then finish out the season at home next week with two games against Williamsport and a pair against rival Mahoning Valley.
“We just have to try to forget about this as quick as possible,” said Crumlich, who extended an eight-game hitting streak with a single in the ninth. “After we go to bed tonight and wake up tomorrow, it’s a new day.”