For just the second time all season, the State College Spikes were shut out Thursday.
The Spikes fell to the West Virginia Black Bears 3-0 in Granville, W.Va., at Monongalia County Ballpark. Four West Virginia pitchers combined to scatter six hits, while striking out four and walking two.
The Spikes’ pitchers didn’t fare too badly, either, as they combined to strike out 10 — reliever Will Latcham fanned five batters in 2 1/3 innings — but it still wasn’t enough, as they stranded seven runners and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
With the loss, the Spikes fall to 29-26 while the Black Bears improve to 33-22.
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Players of the game
West Virginia first baseman Lucas Tancas and starting pitcher Gavin Wallace: It’s incredibly difficult to separate these two. Pitching won the game for the Black Bears, and Wallace got his team off on the right foot by allowing just three hits and a walk in five innings of work. But Tancas’ clutch hitting made the Spikes pay all night long. He literally had a hand in each and every one of the Black Bears’ runs: He scored the first, hit a solo shot for the second and drove in the third. He finished 3 of 3 and played just about perfectly at the plate.
Fifth inning: West Virginia nursed a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth, when the game took a critical turn. The Spikes’ J.D. Crowe tripled with just one out on the board, so the visitors were in prime position to tie up the game. Dennis Ortega then struck out, but Wood Myers walked — giving the Spikes runners on the corners with two outs. But Edwin Figuera then lined out as the Spikes came up empty. In the bottom of the inning, Tancas hit his solo shot to give West Virginia a 2-0 boost.
State College at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m. Friday: The Spikes will hope to avoid the three-game sweep when Daniel Castano (7-2, 2.25 ERA) takes the mound against the Black Bears’ Beau Sulser (2-3, 5.40 ERA).