UNIVERSITY PARK — When Steven Ramos stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth inning, he had a chance to redeem himself from the blunder he made in the inning prior.
And that’s exactly what the State College Spikes’ centerfielder did.
Facing a 0-2 count, Ramos connected on a fastball and shot it over the glove of a leaping Vermont shortstop and into centerfield. It was hit deep enough that Brett Wiley could score the game’s first and only run as the Spikes (25-19) went on to win 1-0 over the Lake Monsters.
“(The) first pitch he threw me was a fastball and I missed that first one, which really upset me because it was right there,” Ramos said of his final trip to the plate. “Then being able to foul off that curve ball was probably a big deal, I haven’t been hitting those very well, so holding it off and then that fastball, he left it up, and I was able to put the ball in play. The whole time I was thinking to myself, don’t try to do too much with the ball.”
Ramos’ single to center was his only hit of the game, but it came at a clutch time and helped make up for his mental lapse running the bases earlier in the game.
After drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the eighth, Ramos advanced to second following another free pass given to shortstop Cesar Valera. With two runners on and no outs, it was the Spikes’ best opportunity to cash in with run production, but they were soon hindered after Ramos was caught up in a double play trying to score from second, following a successful sacrifice bunt attempt by designated hitter Juan Herrera.
“It’s just one of those things that I panicked when I was on base, screwed up, (and) came up and was just hoping to come through,” Ramos said.
While Ramos’ game-winning RBI single helped push across a run, it would not have been possible without the stellar play from the pitching staff and defense.
In a combined effort, Arturo Reyes, Victor De Leon and Mitch Harris held the Lake Monsters scoreless and only allowed four hits. Reyes led the way for the Spikes and threw 73 pitches over the course of the first five innings, while registering five strikeouts and giving up two hits.
Harris picked up the win to improve to 2-1 on the season and recorded two strikeouts in his solo inning of work.
“Reyes did well, he fell behind some hitters, which kind of took his pitch count up a little bit,” State College manager Oliver Marmol said. “We wish we could have ran him out there another inning, but he did well. Even though he fell behind, he was able to make some pitches to get out of it. He threw his off-speed behind in the count, kept those guys off balance. He did a very nice job for us tonight. (He’s) an exciting kid, it’s fun to watch him.”
Even though Reyes received praise from his skipper, he felt like his catcher Luke Voit deserved most of the credit.
“We had Voit back there calling a great game, so I really give him all the credit,” Reyes said. “He didn’t only do it with me, he did it for the whole nine innings without a run, so he called a great game behind the plate and then our defense of course did a great job.”
It was the fifth time in the last eight games that the Spikes have managed to hold their opponents to one run or less in a game and the second consecutive game they did so.
The Spikes will host the Lake Monsters for the second game in the three game series Saturday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.