UNIVERSITY PARK — These State College Spikes sure know how to be dramatic.
“I like to keep the fans on their feet and excited for the win,” Ronald Castillo said.
The Spikes left fielder played the hero role in Monday night’s drama at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, delivering a bases-loaded single in the 11th inning to give State College a 2-1 win over the Batavia Muckdogs.
The Spikes rallied with an eighth-inning run from Steven Ramos to force extra innings for their 17th win in the last 22 games and 12th win in the last 13 at home.
“We love it here,” said Ramos, who was 2-for-5. “It’s very exciting and it’s great to be a part of it. Hopefully we can start winning some games a little out of hand.”
Victor De Leon, the fourth Spikes pitcher, threw 1 1/3 innings for the win, which kept the team tied with the Jamestown Jammers for first place in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division.
Sean Townsley took the loss.
It marked the sixth win this season in which State College has won on its last at-bat.
“Nobody gets tired of walk-off wins,” manager Oliver Marmol said. “These guys are doing a great job. It’s to their credit. They were able to stick with it the entire game. This team just has a lot of mental toughness.”
Cesar Valera had a 12-pitch at-bat before beating out an infield single. Brett Wiley then drilled a single to chase Townsley. Reliever Miguel Del Pozo walked David Washington on four pitches to load the bases, and set the stage for Castillo to jump on the first pitch he saw for a clean single to right-center field.
“I prepared to see the ball and make good contact,” Castillo said through an interpreter. “It was real emotional and pretty exciting to get that.”
The Spikes tied it with two out in the eighth in surprising fashion.
Leadoff hitter Steven Ramos lofted a single to shallow left field just out of the reach of shortstop J.T. Riddle. On the very next pitch to Valera, Ramos broke for second base, and catcher Chad Wallach’s throw was wide of the base. Ramos slid into the base but barely lost any momentum and raced all the way around to score the tying run.
“I was just thinking about going to third, and then seeing how slow it trickled away and Marmol waved me,” Ramos said. “I just kept running and hoping for the best.”
Marmol, coaching third, did not hesitate to send the runner.
“I saw the gap between the ball and the outfield and I figured that was going to be our only shot,” Marmol said. “The way we were competing and hitting at that time I took a shot and it was worth taking.”
It took until the sixth inning for the game’s first run to cross.
Batavia’s Luis Ortiz drew a full-count leadoff walk, stole second, moved to third when Herget’s pickoff attempt was off the mark and bounced into center field and scored on Avery Romero’s single up the middle.
It was the only time all game the Muckdogs had gotten a runner past second base.
“These guys are locked in,” Marmol said of the work by the pitchers Monday. “They’re doing a nice job. They’re sticking to the plan, and that’s what’s important. They’re executing it.”
Notes: The Spikes hit the road for one game at Williamsport at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday before returning home for five more home games. State College right-hander Arturo Reyes (0-2) will start against Crosscutters righty Mitch Gueller (3-6). … The teams then meet again Wednesday in State College. Among the features for that game will be a Bobble Head Doll giveaway to the first 1,000 fans of all ages of former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher and State College product Stan Belinda. … The Spikes also will put four-game playoff pack tickets on sale to the public Wednesday. Individual game tickets will be sold if and when a schedule is set.