The State College Spikes scored in only one inning Sunday — but that was all they needed, as the Spikes parlayed a nine-run fourth inning into a 9-0 shutout against Mahoning Valley.
In the top of the fourth, in a scoreless game to that point, the Spikes’ bats exploded. State College batted around while collecting eight hits, one walk and reaching base on an error. Catcher Josh Lopez wound up with two hits that inning, getting a single in his first appearance and then smacking a three-run homer to put the game at 9-0.
Mahoning Valley tried to calm pitcher Grant Hockin during a visit to the mound in the fourth. But the brief visit didn’t help — he surrendered three consecutive hits before the Scrappers pulled him for good. Reliever Chen Ping-Hsueh fared a bit better but gave up Lopez’s home run.
On the other side of the field, the Spikes pitched incredibly well as Daniel Castano improved his record to 2-0 this season.
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With the win, State College improves to 4-3 while Mahoning Valley falls to 4-3.
Player of the game
State College pitcher Daniel Castano: In eight innings, Castano was nearly perfect. He struck out nine, walked only one and scattered four hits. He faced just 27 batters and improved his ERA to 1.93.
Everybody hits ... almost
Seven of the nine starting Spikes got a hit Sunday — and the two who didn’t still reached base anyway. Evan Mendoza reached on a fielding error in the fourth inning and then scored after Lopez’s homer. And J.D. Crowe walked once, in addition to laying down a sacrifice bunt in the fourth frame.
After the first week of the season, four Spikes (minimum: 10 at-bats) are currently hitting over. 300 — catcher Josh Lopez (.579), third baseman Yariel Gonzalez (.417), second baseman Edwin Figuera (.400) and catcher Dennis Ortega (.313).
State College at Mahoning Valley, 7:05 p.m. Monday: The three-game road series — which is now tied 1-1 — wraps up Monday. On Tuesday, the Spikes will get their first day off since the season started June 19, and will then start a six-game homestand on Wednesday.