It had been a rough night for State College Spikes third baseman Danny Diekroeger by the time he came to the plate in the eighth inning.
Diekroeger committed an error to allow a run to score and had been 0 for 4 to that point at the plate.
With teammates on second and third, Diekroeger put his struggles behind him and laced a single into center field to extend the Spikes’ lead over the Williamsport Crosscutters to three runs.
“I was really trying to focus,” Diekroeger said, “and I know I had missed a couple chances to execute at that earlier in the game so I just had that extra edge I guess to really focus.”
State College reliever Josh Lucas pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the Spikes’ 5-2 win over the Crosscutters at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday night. Robelys Reyes went 3-for-5 and scored two runs and Jhohan Acevedo finished 3-for-3 with two runs to pace the Spikes offensively. Four State College relievers combined to limit Williamsport to one run in the final five innings.
Daniel Poncedeleon pitched two innings in relief to earn the win, while Lucas earned the save. Tyler Bray pitched 1 2/3 innings and Nick Lomascolo got the final out of the eighth to protect the lead.
After a 12-inning game in which starter Dewin Perez only threw two innings on Wednesday with some pitchers limited to three innings at a time right now, Spikes manager Oliver Marmol has relied on his bullpen this week.
“We’ve taxed the bullpen a little bit this week,” Marmol said. “… So the bullpen’s actually done a pretty good job in a heavy workload.”
State College starting pitcher Cody Schumacher limited Williamsport to two hits and one run in four innings.
The Spikes (10-5) struck first in the bottom of the second.
Rowan Wick led off with a broken-bat single and came around to score on a chopper to Williamsport shortstop Derek Campbell by Luis Cruz.
Williamsport (6-8) answered in the third when Diekroeger committed his sixth error of the season on a ground ball to allow Derek Campbell to score.
“It’s tough because I did make a costly error that cost a run so I was definitely a little down on myself,” Diekroeger said. “But that’s what this game’s all about. There’s a lot of failure and it just felt like I had to come back and make up for it.”
He did that with his two-run single in the eighth.
The Spikes regained the lead in the bottom of the third on a two-out RBI single by Adam Ehrlich.
“I’m just trying to see the ball up in the zone and the pitches I hit were up in the zone,” Ehrlich said. “I’m just trying to stay disciplined, not chase pitches and get good pitches to hit and put good swings on them.”
Ehrlich also worked a two-out walk to end Williamsport starting pitcher Feliberto Sanchez’s night. Crosscutters reliever Rick Bielski entered and walked Alex De Leon to load the bases.
Bielski then hit Wick to score Acevedo, giving State College a 3-1 lead.
Williamsport cut the deficit to one run on a single by Wilmer Oberto in the sixth. The Crosscutters had the tying run on third base in the eighth, but Lomascolo forced a groundout to first base.
State College remained ahead 3-2.
The lead ballooned to three in the bottom of the eighth.
Acevedo singled with one out, and Reyes reached on an error. They moved to second and third on an errant pickoff attempt at second by Williamsport reliever Bryan Sova.
Diekroeger then came through with the big hit, drilling the ball up the middle to score two runs.
“The kid’s mentally tough,” Marmol said. “He really is, made an error earlier in the game, cost us a run, didn’t let it affect his offense at all and came back and came up with the really good hit for two runs there to give us some insurance.
“But he’s a mentally tough kid. I like the way he goes about it and he keeps his composure regardless of the situation.”
Notes: The Spikes and Crosscutters continue their series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Bowman Field. Austin Gomber (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will get the start for State College, while Mitch Gueller will be on the mound for Williamsport.