UNIVERSITY PARK — Dave Turgeon just wants his team to finish strong.
While it may be difficult to motivate a young group that has been eliminated from playoff contention with two games remaining in the season, the State College Spikes manager has preached those words for the last few weeks.
Monday, his team failed to live up to them.
The Williamsport Crosscutters racked up 13 hits and used a four-run fifth inning to down the rival Spikes 7-2 on Labor Day afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“(We can’t) look ahead, or (look) behind us,” center fielder Walker Gourley said. “We have to finish the drill, finish the rep, finish the game. Finish everything.”
Designated hitter Dilson Herrera had the best offensive night of any Spike, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
All but one Crosscutter had a hit, and the first four batters in the lineup all had at least two. Williamsport right fielder Cameron Perkins went 3-for-5, scored two runs and drove in two more. The Spikes top four hitters went a combined 2-for-12 with four walks.
“It takes a team, not any particular part of the lineup,” Turgeon said.
“But once you get momentum back and lose it so quick, it’s hard to get that focus and energy. But I have no problem with our effort tonight.”
Spikes starter Joely Rodriguez was shelled in 41/ 3 innings, surrendering 11 hits
and seven earned runs. Crosscutters lefty Manny Martinez lasted just 31/ 3 innings, but gave up just two runs and three hits.
He did walk five Spikes, but got bailed out by reliever Jon Musser after loading the bases in the fourth.
The Spikes received strong work from their bullpen Monday, as lefty Josh Smith didn’t give up a hit in 12/ 3 innings. Righty Ryan Hafner replaced
him and tossed three strong innings, allowing just two hits, a walk and no runs.
“It was successful, but it could have been better,” Smith said of his outing. “…That’s just been my goal. Don’t look at the big picture; just get one guy out at a time.”
The Crosscutters jumped out to an early lead in the first when Perkins drilled a pitch from Rodriguez into the gap in left, one-hopping the wall and scoring two. He crossed the plate on a single by Larry Greene. The Spikes responded with a run in the bottom of that frame — Samuel Gonzalez’s triple down the right field line scored D.J. Crumlich.
The Spikes trimmed the lead to one in the fourth when Crosscutters catcher Logan Moore’s throw back to Martinez got past the mound and Herrera came home. In the top of the fifth, Roman Quinn singled home Moore and Jiandido Tromp’s sacrifice fly, which plated Gustavo Gonzalez, extended the Williamsport lead.
After surrendering another run, Smith replaced Rodriguez and threw a wild pitch, which allowed Perkins to score. The Spikes couldn’t get any momentum back after that big inning, and the final four frames were scoreless.
The Spikes have been officially eliminated from the playoffs for more than a week now and have just two games remaining — a pair against Mahoning Valley at Medlar Field tonight and Wednesday.
State College is planning to finish strong.
“That’s what our coaches always keep in our minds,” Spikes shortstop Chris Diaz said. “You’re a pro. It’s your job. You have to finish strong.”