State College Spikes: Pitchers shine in ‘piggyback’ win over Tri-City

acarter@centredaily.comJuly 31, 2013 

— After exorcising road demons late into Tuesday morning, a weary State College returned to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park the same night and dispatched Tri-City 6-2.

It took six pitchers and 13 innings to snap the Spikes’ nine-game road-losing streak at Batavia, which meant Jimmy Reed and Andrew Pierce had to eat innings to give their team a chance.

“That’s all we had — so yes,” said Spikes’ manager Oliver Marmol with a smile.

Reed was supposed to start, but Pierce was scheduled to pitch Wednesday. However, Marmol paired the two in a “piggyback” setup — because of the New York marathon — and “crossed (his) fingers for nine.”

The result was just what State College (22-19) needed, especially after the team returned from the road at 5 a.m. The duo combined to strikeout nine, scatter eight hits and each allow a run.

“You can’t really think about that,” Reed said. “Obviously there isn’t going to be much bullpen help, but we had Pierce there.”

The left-hander from Maryland chewed through five innings, struck out three and gave up one run on a solo home run by Conrad Gregor.

Pierce, an eighth-round pick in June from Southern Mississippi, finished the final four with six strikeouts, a run and three hits.

Randall Fant (1-2) took the loss for the ValleyCats (26-17).

Offensively, the Spikes splayed the ball to all fields with runners in scoring position (4-for-10) and left just five on base.

Steven Ramos went 3-for-4 and is now third in the New York-Penn League in batting (.350). Carson Kelly went 2-for-4 and added a pair of RBIs. Cesar Valera also drove in two runs. Matthew Young went 2-for-3.

Tri-City however, went 1-for-7 with runners in position and Gregor (3-for-4) was the only multi-hit player.

“Basically we’ve kind of been in a slump offensively for the last five games,” said Tri-City manager Ed Romero. “I thought tonight we were a little better swinging the bats, a little more aggressive … but it’s been a problem especially with runners in scoring position.”

Reed, a sixth-round pick in June, got in trouble after allowing two singles in the first, but a well-placed fastball induced a pop fly to end the threat.

Trouble found Reed again in the third after Valera robbed Chan Moon of a single with a sprawling stab and throw to first. However, a batter later, Gregor deposited a 2-0 fastball deep over the fence in right to give Tri-City a 1-0 lead.

Gregor was a teammate of Reed’s on the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod League, but the lefty quickly composed himself and needed just six pitches to get two outs and scuttle thoughts of a crooked number.

“Anytime you can limit the big inning you give yourself the best chance to win and I think we do that pretty much as a staff.”

In contrast, the big one undid the ValleyCats in the third. The Spikes used three straight singles — all up the middle — to even the score at one. Young, Ramos and Valera were the culprits and after Luis Perez reached on a fielder’s choice, Washington also singled up the middle.

That just left a bases-clearing triple by Kelly to the gap in left-center, which scored two and gave State College a 4-1 lead.

Valera and Perez added RBIs in the seventh to break the game open.

Juan Bautista (1-3) will start Wednesday’s game two at 7:05 p.m. on Mattt Adams bobble head night. Tri-City is scheduled to go with left-hander Evan Grills (3-0).

Note: Cleveland minori-leaguer Juan Herrera, a member of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, was traded to St. Louis on Tuesday and will be sent to State College.. Catcher Alex De Leon was held out as a precaution and was tested for a concussion after a collision at home plate against Batavia.

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