One day after eking past West Virginia in extra innings, the State College Spikes came out on top in another nail-biter.
The Spikes slipped past the Black Bears 3-2 Wednesday night in Granville, W.Va., after trailing by two runs in the sixth. They scored one run in each of the final three frames to win the game.
The game-winning run, that came in the top of the ninth, occurred when Joe Gomez doubled on a line drive to right field to drive in J.D. Crowe, who reached on a fielding error by the third baseman. There was just one out at the time.
The Black Bears had a chance to come back themselves but, with one out and two men on base, the Spikes’ Noel Gonzalez struck out the game’s final two batters.
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With the win, the Spikes have swept West Virginia in their three-game series and are now ahead of them in the standings. State College stands at 37-31 — two-and-a-half games behind Mahoning Valley — while the Black Bears are 35-33.
Players of the game
State College’s bullpen: This award could’ve gone at least three different ways: West Virginia’s Ike Schlabach also had a terrific outing by allowing just two hits over six innings, and the Spikes’ Andrew Summerville did the heavy lifting by scattering four hits over six frames. But, ultimately, this game came down to a battle of the bullpens — and the Spikes were simply better there. Much better. Reliever Alex Fagalde pitched 2 1/3 innings and didn’t allow a single hit en route to picking up the pitching win. Noel Gonzalez went 2/3 of an inning and also didn’t surrender a hit. The pair combined to strike out four and walk one; West Virginia’s bullpen gave up six hits while striking out just one and allowing two earned runs.
Could’ve been worse ...
First inning: The Spikes surrendered a run in the first inning, but it could’ve been a lot worse. State College was fortunate to head out of that frame with minimal damage. West Virginia loaded the bases up with no outs — one a single and two walks — and the momentum could’ve completely shifted over to the Black Bears at that time. Instead, Summerville struck out the next batter, hit the next batter to allow a run and then caused the next two to pop out and ground out. It wasn’t ideal, but it was an outcome that gave the Spikes an opening later in the game.
State College at Mahoning Valley, 7:05 p.m. Thursday: Both pitchers are to be determined, but this game is a big one for both teams. The Spikes are just 2 1/2 games back from the Scrappers, and they could put themselves in the front-runner spot with another sweep. After that three-game series, the Spikes will return home Sunday to face the Auburn Doubledays.