UNIVERSITY PARK — Cathy Kennedy had her pen poised to color in two more runs for the State College Spikes.
The season-ticket holder kept score through a wet and wild Game 2 of the New York-Penn League championship series. But when Tri-City reliever Gonzalo Sanudo struck out Spike Cesar Valera in the ninth inning with the tying run on base, State College’s celebration was on hold for at least one more day.
The visiting ValleyCats won 5-4 to knot the best-of-3 series at 1-1, with the decisive showdown at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“They usually pull it out in the 9th,” Kennedy said of her Spikes.
Not this time.
A crowd of 2,101 waited out a 30-minute rain delay before the game started and then watched the home team fall behind 5-0 before the Spikes and their fans came to life.
State College rallied for four runs in the bottom of the sixth and the fans roared with every pitch. But the Spikes never pushed across the two runs needed to secure the NY-PL trophy Wednesday.
“They’ve done it so many times, you thought there was a good possibility they would get it done,” Larry Conaway, of Spring Township, said as fans headed for the exits around him.
Conaway, a season-ticket holder, said he would be back Thursday for the final contest. He has enjoyed watching the Spikes make their first appearance in the playoffs.
“I’m optimistic,” he said. “It’s been a nice experience after so many losing seasons. It’s been an exciting year. Let’s hope it’s exciting (Thursday) night.”
Steph Corl, of State College, agreed.
“It’s exciting to see the local team in the playoffs,” Corl said before the game.
She attended with boyfriend Jon Roberts, of Johnstown.
“We’re both baseball fans,” Corl said.
So is Frank S. Capparelli, a State College retiree who said he’s been a Spikes supporter since the team arrived in 2006.
“I’ve been here ever since they started,” Capparelli said. “I love baseball, and I love coming here.”
Spikes chairman and managing partner Chuck Greenberg took in the game and praised the fans who braved thunderstorms to cheer on the team.
“The crowds have been great,” Greenberg said after the game. “They’ve supported us throughout our eight seasons here. And this post-season run has been something the fans have been looking forward to.”
It will just take one more game to close the deal on that league crown.
“We’re playing the last game of the year, where the winner takes the title,” Greenberg said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Follow Chip Minemyer on Twitter @MinemyerChip.