WILLIAMSPORT — Cesar Valera is quite comfortable hitting within the confines of Historic Bowman Field.
The proof can be found in his past results and was on display again on Monday night when the State College Spikes shortstop notched three hits, including a two-run double in the eighth inning, to propel State College (8-6) to a 7-5 New York-Penn League baseball win over the Williamsport Crosscutters (7-6).
Valera has collected seven hits in two games at the country’s second-oldest minor league ballpark. His groundball double to right field raised his batting average to .700 inside the Crosscutters’ park and plated Brian Vigo and Steven Ramos to give the Spikes a lead they would not relinquish.
The win pushed State College to within a half-game of Jamestown for the Pinckney Division lead.
Luke Voit and Bruce Caldwell did their parts. Voit went 3-for-3 and reached base on a walk while Caldwell followed Valera with an RBI-double of his own in the top of the eighth to pad his team’s lead. Caldwell walked twice and he and Voit each scored a run for State College.
Matthew Young added an RBI single in the top of the second and David Washington added another in the third.
From the mound, State College opted for a “piggyback” setup. Josh Lucas started and pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts before he was relieved by Kevin Herget in the fourth. Herget went 3 1/3 innings, gave up one run on three hits, walked one and struck out three to earn the win.
Victor De Leon and Jeff Rauh followed for State College with Rauh earning his first save of the season.
Williamsport threatened to overtake State College in the standings, racing out to a 5-3 lead after five innings of play. Malquin Canelo lent an RBI to Williamsport’s effort in the bottom of the second and Logan Pierce followed in the second with a two-run double to left field.
Corey Bass scored on a Lucas pickoff attempt that missed its mark at third to give Williamsport a 4-3 lead. Bass connected again in the fifth, this time with a sacrifice fly to center field that plated Justin Parr, who led off the frame with a single.
Valera got the Spikes’ offense going again with his second hit of the game — a double to left field — to lead off the top of the seventh. Two batters later, Mason Katz singled to plate Valera to cut Williamsport’s lead to 5-4.
Valera came up again in the eighth and notched his second double. It turned out to be the deciding swing after Rauh punched out two batters in a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve the win.
State College is 8-0 when scoring six runs or more. After a week away, the Spikes return to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for Game 2 of the three-game series at 7 p.m. Tuesday.