Evan Mendoza led the State College Spikes to a 7-6 win over the Auburn Doubledays on Friday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Mendoza recorded State College’s first hit of the night in the sixth inning with a solo home run before driving in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning with a double to left-center field.
Mendoza finished 2 for 4 as the Spikes (7-4) completed their sweep of the Doubledays (3-8). After striking out in his first two at-bats Friday night, Mendoza wanted to swing earlier in the count the rest of the night. During his third trip to the plate with two outs in the sixth inning, Mendoza fouled off the second pitch from Auburn reliever Michael Rishwain and fouled off another pitch before sending his first professional home run over the left field wall.
“I didn’t really feel too much of the ball hitting the bat, and that’s kind of what you want with these wood bats,” Mendoza said.
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His home run tied the game 1-1 and sparked a four-run inning for State College.
After Auburn responded with three runs in the top of the seventh to pull even, Mendoza delivered again in the bottom of the seventh. The Spikes third baseman drilled an RBI double into left-center field to push his team ahead 5-4.
“It looks like he’s swinging at pitches that he can hit,” Spikes manager Joe Kruzel said. “He’s a quality player and really excited to keep watching him grow.”
The Spikes added two more runs in the seventh on their way to the win.
Player of the game
Auburn starting pitcher Ben Braymer: Braymer held the Spikes hitless in five innings, striking out seven and walking three. The left-hander retired the first nine batters he faced before allowing back-to-back walks in the bottom of the fourth. Braymer finished his night with the Doubledays ahead 1-0.
“He really kept us off-balance,” Kruzel said. “If we did hit it relatively hard, we hit it right at their guys.”
At the plate
Offensive outburst: After Mendoza’s shot to left field ended Auburn’s no-hitter, State College had five straight singles to take a 4-1 lead. Tyler Lancaster sent a two-run single into right field, and Erik Garcia dropped an RBI single into center field.
“We put together a couple more good at-bats right after that,” Kruzel said, referring to Mendoza’s home run. “You got to give a lot of credit that our guys hung in there.”
Turning point: The Spikes took the lead for good with three runs in the seventh inning. After Mendoza drove in the go-ahead run, State College added two runs on a throwing error to take a 7-4 lead.
Doubledays’ highlights: Auburn finished with 17 hits in the loss. Jonathan Pryor and Paul Panaccione each went 3 for 5 to pace the Doubledays.
Batavia at State College, 7:05 p.m. Saturday: Daniel Castano (2-0, 1.93 ERA) will be on the mound for the Spikes in the series opener against the Muckdogs. The left-hander is coming off a dominant effort in a win over Mahoning Valley on Sunday as he struck out nine in eight scoreless innings. Left-hander Manuel Rodriguez (1-0, 1.50) will start for Batavia.