For the first time since early July, the State College Spikes are in first place in their division — though it took a little drama to get there.
With late solo home runs for Matthew Young and Alex DeLeon and a solid pitching effort from Nick Petree, the Spikes held off the Jamestown Jammers 5-3 Saturday night at Russell Diethrick Park.
By taking both games of the series, State College tied Jamestown for first place in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division, the first time the Spikes have been in first since July 9. After holding an 18-18 record on July 25, when State College was in third place and five games out of first, the Spikes have won 15 of their last 20 games.
The Jammers and Spikes are scheduled to meet five more times over the last 18 games of the regular season, including twice next week at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, as State College seeks its first postseason berth in franchise history.
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Petree (2-1) gave up six hits and one run with no walks over six innings, striking out four, to earn the win and lower his season ERA to 1.05. Victor De Leon, Jeff Rauh and Andrew Pierce finished the game, with Pierce earning his second save.
Isaac Sanchez started and took the loss for the Jammers.
State College led from the outset after a two-run first inning. Steven Ramos was hit by a pitch, Cesar Valera singled, Brett Wiley followed with an RBI single and Valera scored on a balk call against Sanchez.
Another run came home on a Carson Kelly two-out double, with Alex De Leon singling Kelly home. Young hit his homer in the seventh and De Leon added his in the ninth.
Down 5-1, the Jammers rallied by loading the bases without an out in the ninth. A ground out plated one run and a Justin Maffei single scored another before Michael Fransoso lined into his second unassisted double play of the night — this time to Valera at shortstop — to end the rally.
The Spikes return home to meet Batavia at 6:05 p.m. Sunday, with left-hander Jimmy Reed (2-2) facing Muckdogs righty Ryan Newell (4-2).