The State College Spikes couldn’t get much going at the plate Wednesday night as they fell 5-1 to the West Virginia Black Bears at Monongalia County Ballpark in Granville, W.Va.
The Black Bears struck first, but they didn’t score until the fifth inning when Sandy Santos sent a solo shot — his first of the season — over center field. West Virginia then added three insurance runs in the seventh to take a 4-0 lead.
Designated hitter Caleb Lopes paced the Spikes by going 2 for 2 with a run.
Both teams finished with seven hits apiece. But State College stranded a half-dozen runners to the Black Bears’ three.
With the loss, the Spikes are now 29-25 while the Black Bears improve to 32-22.
Player of the game
West Virginia starting pitcher Scooter Hightower: The 15th-round pick from 2015 was a force Wednesday, as he allowed four hits, no walks and no runs in seven innings of work. He also struck out three Spikes. His season ERA is now down to 2.11; State College scored its only run right after he left the mound.
Bottom of the seventh: The Black Bears held a slim 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh; that’s when a three-run rally gave the home team just the cushion it needed. With two outs and a base-runner on second, Spikes catcher Dennis Ortega committed a rare throwing error on a pickoff attempt — and then center fielder Ricardo Bautista committed another throwing error on the same play. That allowed Jared Olivia to score from second to make the score 2-0. Lucas Tancas homered in the next at-bat, Santos tripled and Julio De La Cruz drove him in on a single. All of a sudden, that slim 1-0 lead ballooned up to 4-0.
State College at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m. Thursday: The Spikes’ Jonathon Mulford (2-4, 4.70 ERA) will take on a pitcher to be determined from the Black Bears. Mulford didn’t fare badly in his last start, as he allowed just one earned run last Friday in five innings against the Vermont Lake Monsters.