State College starting pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon couldn’t find his comfort zone.
Poncedeleon struck out five, walked four and threw seven more balls than strikes in his 59-pitch outing. He lasted 2 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and two hits.
His counterpart, Brooklyn starter Scarlyn Reyes, cruised.
Reyes struck out four, walked one and hit 101 miles per hour with a pitch in the fourth inning. Reyes went five scoreless innings, scattering five hits and relying on his mid-to-high 90s fastball to silence the Spikes’ bats as State College fell 4-0 on Wednesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“I would say he’s probably the best guy we’ve seen up to this point,” Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said. “He did a nice job. Not sure how hard he was throwing, but it seemed like it was running up there pretty good. And he was able to mix in his curveball, kept us off balance. We were behind on his fastball.”
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak, which saw State College outscore its opponents 48-21.
During the streak, the Spikes (18-8) exploded for 11 runs and 10 runs in wins and also held opponents to two runs in each of the last four wins.
But Wednesday, State College couldn’t come through with the big hit to kickstart the offense, and Poncedeleon’s struggles contributed to an early three-run deficit. The Spikes went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and failed to get on the board against four Brooklyn relievers in the final four innings.
The Cyclones (15-11) took the lead in the second inning on a one-run single by Joe Tuschak.
They added to the lead in the third as Poncedeleon struggled with his control.
Poncedeleon walked Brooklyn’s Amed Rosario on four pitches to start the third inning. He forced a groundout and struck out Jhoan Urena on seven pitches before surrendering his third four-pitch walk to end his night.
“(Poncedeleon) had trouble commanding his fastball, had trouble commanding most of his pitches,” Marmol said, “put him behind in the count, some tough situations there and walks. If you walk enough guys, you’re going to end up touching the plate at some point during the game.
“That’s exactly what happened. Walks got us early and we couldn’t come back.”
Marmol turned to reliever Jeff Rauh to keep Brooklyn off the board, but the right-hander allowed a triple to Cyclones right fielder Michael Bernal, the first batter he faced.
The towering shot landed on the warning track by the left-center field wall, 410 feet away, out of the reach of State College center fielder Jhohan Acevedo. Two runs scored, and Brooklyn led 3-0.
It was more than enough for the Cyclones, with Reyes using his fastball and curve to frustrate the Spikes.
In the sixth inning, Brooklyn turned to Luis Mateo, who allowed a two-out double to State College’s Alex De Leon but recovered to get Rowan Wick to ground out to end the inning.
The Spikes’ best chance came in the seventh, with the bases loaded and no outs.
Brooklyn’s Eddie Villasmil forced a shallow flyout by Acevedo before left-hander Kelly Secrest entered to face lefty Darren Seferina and switch-hitter Robelys Reyes. A strikeout and groundout kept State College scoreless.
“It’s frustrating,” Marmol said. “You want those guys touching the plate. We had a situation, bases loaded, nobody out, can’t get the job done. That just can’t happen.”
Brooklyn tacked on a run in the ninth when Tuschak an offering from Spikes reliever Anderson Gerdel to right field for a solo home run.
It was Gerdel’s first pitch in State College after he was promoted from Rookie-level Johnson City on Wednesday. Gerdel went 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in eight appearances with Johnson City this season.
But ultimately, the Spikes didn’t have an answer for the Brooklyn pitching staff led by Reyes.
Said Marmol: “Those guys did a nice job of pitching us.”