The game got away from State College quickly after Williamsport scored seven in the second inning en route to a 9-1 victory at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Wednesday night.
The Spikes received help in the standings from Mahoning Valley, which beat Jamestown 2-1 and kept the Jammers a game back in the Pinckney division.
With an important three-game set with Jamestown beginning Thursday at 6 p.m., sometimes the only thing you can do is move on quickly. However, Spikes’ manager Oliver Marmol says not so fast.
“If it was the first time this happened I would say yes, but we had a game like this two nights ago,” Marmol said. “So no, you don’t put it behind you. You look at it face to face. What could we do better and what did we do OK. But these players have to face some of their mistakes so they don’t do it again.”
State College (42-25) walked eight batters, hit another, went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and saw its manager ejected in the second inning for arguing a call at first. The seven runs are the most allowed by the Spikes in an inning at home this year. The team’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot remains at four.
“We’re heading toward the end of the season,” Marmol said, “so games like this can’t happen.”
Yacksel Rios took the win for the Crosscutters (32-35) and Felix Santos earned his seventh save. Rios (5-2) gave up an earned run, scattered six hits and struck out five. Santos didn’t allow a run and fanned three in four innings.
Ben O’Shea (3-2) gave up seven earned runs on just two hits and four walks, and only retired five batters in his return from Peoria.
Williamsport didn’t exactly dominant at the plate, but it did capitalize on opportunities.
Gustavo Martinez (2-for-5, three RBIs) was the only Cutter with multiple hits. In contrast, Steven Ramos, Michael Schulze, Luke Voit and Jimmy Bosco each had two hits for State College.
“We’ve been playing good,” said Williamsport manager Nelson Prada. “We beat the Spikes twice in the last three games. For us it’s something that we (should) be proud facing a playoff team and the best record in the league.”
The night began inauspiciously for O’Shea, who hit Justin Parr in the shoulder with the game’s third pitch.
Parr then moved to second on a ground out and then swiped third on a play where Luke Voit’s throw to Kelly was in time but Parr’s slide jostled the ball from Kelly’s glove.
A Dylan Cozens fielder’s choice scored Parr from third and made it 1-0.
Ramos wasted no time attempting a comeback in the home half, slapping the first pitch from Rios into left for a single. But, the fleet-footed centerfielder was picked off at first, which was a harbinger of the deciding seven-run second.
After striking out Martinez looking, O’Shea looked poised to stop the bleeding, however, two pitches later Sam Dove drove a liner over the fence in left, which reopened the wound.
“I felt like I was doing good in the first inning,” O’Shea said. “Hitting my spots pretty well and the umpire just wasn’t calling some of them. And then in the second I don’t know what happened. Just couldn’t throw strikes. Ball wasn’t going where I wanted.”
Walks to Chad Carman and Parr led to Carman scoring on an Andrew Pullin single that made it 3-0 Williamsport.
Zach Green reached on a fielder’s choice grounded to Kelly, whose throw Marmol believed was in time at first.
The Spikes manager argued with field umpire Brennan Miller on the grass in front of second and as he back peddled back toward the dugout, Brennan gave the signal ejecting him from the game.
Marmol didn’t leave quickly and got nearly face to face with Miller as home plate ump Matt Winters attempted to intervene.
The same crew worked games in Williamsport and Marmol wasn’t satisfied with their performance.
“Some of the umpires in this league are not up to the speed of the league and it needs to get better starting with the crew that was out there tonight,” Marmol said. “A couple situations that they didn’t handle up to par. Hopefully they learn from it moving forward.”
Nick Petree will begin Thursday’s game, a continuation of the June 25 game postponed by rain. Cody Dickson, the pitcher of record, will pick up where he finished in the bottom of the second trailing 2-0.
Andrew Pierce (1-2) and Jackson Lodge (4-3) will start the second game for State College and Jamestown respectively.