The State College Spikes took advantage of another wild night by Auburn’s pitchers in a 7-4 win Thursday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
After walking nine times in the series-opening win, State College (6-4) drew seven walks and scored five runs against Doubledays starting pitcher Jhonatan German, who lasted 4 1/3 innings. German also threw three wild pitches and hit a batter during the outing.
“We were very, again, patient at the plate,” Spikes manager Joe Kruzel said. “Then when we did have some opportunities, we came through.”
The Doubledays (3-7) pulled German in the fifth inning after he allowed consecutive walks with one out. The Spikes capitalized with four runs in the inning, highlighted by Tyler Lancaster’s two-run single to take a 7-2 lead.
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The Spikes finished with eight walks Thursday night.
State College has now won three of its last four games and will go for the sweep against Auburn on Friday night.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Spikes shortstop Caleb Lopes said. “We’re all striving for one goal, and we’re all playing together well. Pitching and hitting’s coming together, so when those two are together, we’re pretty good.”
Player of the game
Spikes catcher Dennis Ortega: Ortega continued to impress defensively and led the Spikes offensively with two hits Thursday night. The catcher has been perfect against four steal attempts this season after gunning down Auburn’s Armond Upshaw with ease in the fifth inning. He also picked off two runners at second base — throwing out Branden Boggetto in the fourth inning and getting Omar Meregildo in the eighth inning.
Venezuela natives impress early: Ortega and Josh Lopez — both from Valencia, Venezuela — have been standouts through 10 games this season. While Ortega has shown off his arm from behind the plate, Lopez is leading the team with a .542 batting average. Lopez went 1 for 3 with a double Thursday night to extend his hitting streak to six games.
“He’s been using pretty much the whole field,” Kruzel said of Lopez. “He’s been using the gaps. He’s also come up with some big home runs for us, too. He got that double tonight, which was a good at-bat. He fought some balls off.”
Long ball: Home runs accounted for all four of Auburn’s runs. In the third inning, Paul Panaccione and Kameron Esthay hit back-to-back solo homers to tie the game 2-2. Boggetto added a two-run home run in the seventh inning to cut the Spikes’ lead to 7-4.
Auburn at State College, 7:05 p.m. Friday: Right-hander Sam Tewes (0-2, 8.38) will be on the mound for the Spikes in the series finale against Auburn. Auburn has yet to announce its starting pitcher. The Spikes then open a three-game home series against Batavia on Saturday.