Yariel Gonzalez went 3 for 5 with three RBIs to lead the State College Spikes to a 4-3 win over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Thursday night at Eastwood Field.
Gonzalez sent a single to center field with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to drive in what proved to be the game-winning run. The third baseman also had two doubles for the Spikes (38-31) in the team’s fourth straight win.
Gonzalez’s first double drove in two runs in the fifth inning to tie the game at 3-3, setting the stage for his big hit in the ninth inning. State College’s Brandon Benson led off the ninth with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error. After a strikeout and a popout, Gonzalez singled to score Benson and push the Spikes ahead 4-3.
State College’s Jason Zgardowski struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to earn the save against Mahoning Valley (39-29). Spikes reliever Levi MaVorhis struck out six in three scoreless innings for the win.
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Player of the game
Yariel Gonzalez, Spikes third baseman: Gonzalez went into Thursday night ranked seventh in the New York-Penn League with a .299 batting average. Spikes teammates Scott Hurst (third) and Josh Lopez (fourth) were also among the league’s hitting leaders. By the end of the night, Gonzalez raised his batting average to .307 to move past Hurst (.303) and Lopez (.300). Gonzalez also now has 11 doubles this season.
Spikes close gap: State College moved within 1 1/2 games of first-place Mahoning Valley in the Pinckney Division standings after Thursday night’s win. The Spikes take on the Scrappers again Friday and Saturday. State College then returns home for the final five games of the regular season.
State College at Mahoning Valley, 7:05 p.m. Friday: The Spikes have yet to announce their starting pitcher for the second game of the series. Left-hander Sam Hentges (0-1, 2.08) will be on the mound for Mahoning Valley.