UNIVERSITY PARK — Steven Ramos was at it again.
After delivering a game-winning walk-off single Friday night in the bottom of the ninth inning, the State College centerfielder came up big for his team late in the game again on Saturday night and helped the Spikes defeat the Vermont Lake Monsters 2-1.
With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Ramos led off with a hit down the third base line that nicked the bag and trickled into left field before dying on the outfield grass. That allowed the speedy outfielder to get to second base and into scoring position with no outs.
After Michael Schulze popped up a bunt to the pitcher’s mound, which resulted in an out, Ramos used his wheels again and stole third base.
A groundout by Dante Rosenberg put the Spikes (26-19) in a tight situation with two outs and Ramos still stranded on third. But that all changed when Cesar Valera stepped up to the plate.
With two men on, Valera ripped a ball into centerfield and that allowed Ramos to come home and score, giving the Spikes their second walk-off win in as many night.
“I was just wishing that it was something like that, just to have the chance to try and do it again,” Valera said. “I just decided to command the situation and do my job.”
The leadoff hit by Ramos helped spark the inning, but it was his aggressive base running that helped to inch him closer to the plate.
Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said that he instilled trust in his centerfielder on the base path, despite some base running mistakes in the past.
“I’ve had Ramos throughout extended spring training (and) I feel like I can give him the green light without having to give a sign,” Marmol said. “I can kind of look at him and sort of wave, he knows what we’re doing, and that’s exactly what took place. The (opposing pitcher) just came off doing an inside move, very rarely will you see back-to-back inside moves at second base, so we took our chance and we won.”
Ramos and Valera recorded only one hit each, but they made them both count in the bottom half of the tenth and helped the Spikes win their eighth-straight home game. Jimmy Bosco was the only Spike to be perfect on the night, as the right fielder went 4-for-4 from the dish.
Another strong pitching performance from the Spikes also aided the win. Jeff Rauh picked up the victory, but starting pitcher Willy Paulino allowed just one run and one hit in his six innings of work. He also recorded a season-high eight strikeouts in his time on the mound and combined with Kyle Webb and Rauh to hold the opposition to one run or less in three consecutive games.
“Our pitching staff’s phenomenal,” Ramos said. “This year they’ve got probably one of the lowest (earned run averages) in the league. They work day-in, day-out just trying to get us a chance to win and giving the hitters that ability to just be in the game all the way until the ninth is a big plus. We haven’t had a blowout really this year, so it’s a big part to them.”
The Spikes will look to complete the series sweep tonight when they face the Lake Monsters for the final game of the series with first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m.