New York-Penn League Baseball

State College Spikes: Team dodges drops to sweep two games from Staten Island

rgery@centredaily.comJuly 14, 2014 

— State College Spikes manager Oliver Marmol called it a tough day at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The Spikes and Staten Island Yankees endured two rain delays Monday, spanning two hours and 15 minutes, during the completion of a suspended game. Both managers were ejected in that game, and then the teams played a seven-inning contest to finish their series.

State College still came away with two wins to sweep the series. The Spikes took the first game 4-3, thanks to a four-run eighth inning. State College dominated in a 7-1 win in the second game for its fifth straight victory and 12th in the last 13 games, tying Hudson Valley for the best record (23-8) in the New York-Penn League.

State College’s Jake Stone led the way, going 2 for 2 with an RBI in the first game before drilling a two-run home run to give the Spikes the lead for good in the second matchup.

“We’re just playing really good baseball right now,” Stone said. “And it’s a lot of fun hanging out with everybody, especially winning and I’m just glad I can contribute to the winning success we’re having right now.”

In the first game, Spikes pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon faced Staten Island’s Luis Torrens with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the fifth.

In a full count, with a steady rain falling, Torrens checked his swing and struck out looking at a fastball inside to end the inning.

Yankees manager Mario Garza was furious with the call and was ejected by home plate umpire Jacob Metz. As the tarp went out on the field signaling the second rain delay, Marmol was ejected after a heated exchange with the umpires.

When the game resumed, Staten Island’s Chris Breen sent a solo home run to left-center field to give the Yankees (15-16) a 2-0 lead going to the bottom of the eighth.

That’s when State College rallied, capitalizing on a wild inning for Staten Island’s pitchers to score four runs.

“In a game like that, that’s huge,” Marmol said. “When you’re not swinging the bat the way you want to and you’ve missed some opportunities and you can take advange of some things like that, it’s helpful.”

With Darren Seferina on first base and Jhohan Acevedo on third, Staten Island reliever Dillon McNamara hit Robelys Reyes with a pitch to load the bases.

McNamara then hit Danny Diekroeger in the knee to score Acevedo and cut the deficit to 2-1. Left-handed reliever Rony Bautista replaced McNamara and couldn’t find the strike zone, walking Alex De Leon on four pitches to bring in the tying run and firing a wild pitch to plate the go-ahead run.

State College tacked on its fourth run on a sacrifice fly by Stone. Kyle Grana got the final two outs in the ninth to earn the save.

The Spikes seized control of the second game with Stone’s two-run blast in the fourth.

After De Leon worked a two-out walk, Stone hammered a home run to dead-center field to give his team a 2-1 lead.

The home run extended Stone’s hitting streak to 10 games, dating back to his homer on July 3. Stone is batting .412 with three home runs and 15 RBIs during that span, improving his average from .160 to .305.

“I’m just trying to take the best at bats possible and being really aggressive right now and not trying to miss any pitches that are up in the zone or any mistakes really,” Stone said.

The Spikes pitching staff held the Yankees scoreless from there, while the offense added to the lead in the next two trips to the plate.

Spikes starter Fernando Baez earned the win, allowing one run on two hits in five innings. Baez also walked two and struck out two.

Marmol said Baez still needs to harness his emotions at times, pointing to when the right-hander hit Staten Island’s Nathan Mikolas with a pitch after he pulled a line drive foul beyond the Spikes’ bullpen.

“He gets excited at times,” Marmol said. “One guy (Mikolas) hit a ball down the right field line and he wants to throw it 107 (mph), ended up hitting the guy. But when he controls his emotions, he was around the zone, did a nice job, located his offspeed stuff OK and gave us a nice outing.”

The Spikes added three runs in the bottom of the fifth and two in the sixth, highlighted by an RBI single by Adam Ehrlich and a two-run double by Chase Raffield.

“These guys do a tremendous job when they’re given the opportunity,” Marmol said. “And it’s good to have that type of depth on this team at this level.”

Notes: The Spikes have an off day Tuesday before starting a six-game road trip with games against Vermont and Tri-City. … Ehrlich returned to State College on Monday after four days with Palm Beach. He caught the second game and went 1 for 3. … Shortstop Andrew Sohn will not return to State College after having his right elbow examined in St. Louis. “I know he’s not coming back here any time soon,” Marmol said.

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