The State College Spikes returned home Tuesday after a weeklong road trip and gave their fans something to cheer about.
The Spikes overcame a two-run deficit in the final frame to slip past the West Virginia Black Bears 5-4 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park and end a three-game skid.
With no outs and the bases loaded with a 4-2 deficit in the ninth, J.D. Crowe grounded into a force out but plated one runner. Scott Hurst then reached first on an error, as another Spike scored to tie the game at 4-4. That set the stage for Zach Kirtley, who was batting well under the Mendoza Line this season.
Kirtley was the hero Tuesday after singling to left field and scoring Edwin Figuera for the walk-off. Kirtley, the leadoff batter, finished 1 of 5 for the game — but came up big when the Spikes needed him most.
With the win, State College improves to 31-29 while the Black Bears fall to 34-26.
Player of the game
State College DH Zach Kirtley: He didn’t have the most hits, the most RBIs or the most runs Tuesday. But no one was more clutch than Kirtley, who’s hitting .197 this season. With the game on the line, this year’s fifth-round draft pick sent a grounder to left field to score the game-winning run and end the contest. It’s difficult to pick anyone else here; Kirtley was the reason for Tuesday night’s celebration.
State College left fielder J.D. Crowe and center fielder Brandon Benson: The pair both finished with a pair of hits, and both played crucial roles in the win. Crowe had two RBIs, while Benson added two runs.
West Virginia Black Bears at State College Spikes, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday: The Spikes’ Daniel Castano (7-2, 2.28 ERA) is set to take on West Virginia’s Beau Sulser (2-3, 4.50 ERA) on the same night as the “Half-Price Wine & Spirits” promotion. Castano has allowed two earned runs in his last 14 1/3 innings.