NILES, Ohio — State College’s road woes continued after Mahoning Valley completed its three-game sweep on Thursday with a 3-1 win at Eastwood Field.
The Spikes have now lost the last eight games on the road and haven’t won away from Medlar Field at Lubrano Park since July 3, a 3-1 win at Williamsport.
Juan Herrera’s two-run home run in the third inning off Juan Bautista was the difference.
Jimmy Bosco (2-for-4) was the only multi-hit player for State College, who went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
After the Spikes (18-18) dominated the Scrappers (15-23) in a three-game sweep at home earlier this month, Mahoning Valley got revenge with an overpowering series of its own.
In stark contrast to the 41 hits and 28 runs State College put on the Scrappers at home, the Spikes were outhit 23-10 and struck out 30 times in Ohio. The pitching staff did enough to keep games close as evidenced by the slim 6-2 scoring margin; however, the offense went a combined 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position in the series.
Bautista (1-3) started and took the loss after giving up six hits and three runs (two earned) in five innings. He also struck out four and walked two.
Ben Heller (1-2) got the win in relief of Scrappers’ starter Cole Sulser. Breily Puerta earned his first save.
Mahoning Valley’s triumvirate of pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts. Sulser and Heller each pitched three innings and fanned three batters, while Puerta added five more in his three innings.
The Scrappers’ offense took care of the rest. Manuel Boscan went 3-for-4. Herrera went 2-for-4, and James Roberts went 2-for-2 with two walks and scored the game’s first run after a Josh McAdams sacrifice fly in the second.
The State College offense woke briefly in the seventh after David Washington led the inning with a ground-rule double on a line drive to right-center field. A Luis Perez liner to right later scored Washington from third and put the Spikes on the board 3-1.
However, a delayed double steal halted the potential rally a batter later with runners on first and third and Dante Rosenberg batting. Scrappers’ catcher Martin Cervenka sprung and threw to Bautista at second as Perez broke from first. Michael Schulze, who reached on a fielder’s choice, broke for the plate but wasn’t fast enough to beat Bautista’s return throw home.
After a 12-game losing streak that spanned July 3-July 14, the Scrappers have now won eight of 10, including five straight.
The Spikes have lost five of seven and have dropped three straight for the third time this season.
They currently sit 4.5 games back of Pinckney division leader Jamestown (22-13) and are two games back of Lowell (19-15) and Williamsport (20-16) in the early wild-card race.
State College looks to rebound when Auburn (12-25), who owns the New York-Penn League’s worst ERA (4.95) and second-worst batting average (.224), comes to town for a two-game series starting Friday at 7:05 p.m. The Spikes are 9-3 at home in the last 12 and 11-6 at home overall. On the road, however, State College is just 7-12.
Right-hander Kevin Herget (3-0, 4.91 ERA) is expected to start for State College. Deion Cortez Williams (0-4, 8.41 ERA) is scheduled for the Doubledays.