Cody Schumacher walked off the mound and toward the dugout to applause Thursday night.
The State College Spikes starting pitcher hurled a gem, allowing just one hit and surrendering two walks in 5 2/3 innings. His stellar night came to an end in the sixth inning after back-to-back, two-out walks gave the Brooklyn Cyclones its first runner on second base on the night.
Otherwise, Schumacher worked quickly and pounded the strike zone to keep the Cyclones off the board. He finished with seven strikeouts in his longest outing of the season, locating his fastball and off-speed pitches to work ahead of batters until the sixth.
“It kind of gives you a little bit more leeway to do what you want and be in the zone a little bit and see if you can get them to chase,” Schumacher said. “But when you start falling behind in the count, like I did my last two batters, that’s when it starts getting tough.”
Spikes relievers Trey Nielsen and Joe Scanio sealed State College’s 4-1 win over Brooklyn at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Schumacher, the St. Louis Cardinals’ 36th-round pick this year, earned his first professional win, and Scanio picked up the save in his first appearance for State College.
The Spikes lineup pounded out 10 hits and scored three runs in the fifth inning to give the pitching staff all the support it needed. Nick Thompson went 3 for 4, scored a run and drove in another to lead a balanced offensive effort.
State College jumped in front in the second inning after Thompson led off with a double to right-center field and scored on a single up the middle by Jake Stone.
Thompson now has a six-game hitting streak, and has recorded a hit in eight of his last nine games. He attributes his success to being able to take the ball the other way as he did on his double Thursday night.
“I think that’s kind of the big difference between the first half of the year and the second half so far,” Thompson said. “I’ve hit a few solid balls to right field and right-center and it seems to be working out so far.”
The Spikes added three runs in the fifth.
Robelys Reyes launched a triple to the right-center field wall to start the inning. Reyes then scored on Danny Diekroeger’s sacrifice fly.
Alex De Leon singled and scored on Rowan Wick’s double to left-center field to extend the lead to 3-0.
Thompson followed by beating out a ground ball to Brooklyn shortstop Amed Rosario for an infield single. Wick hustled to third and was already down the line on his way to score by the time first baseman Jeffrey Diehl received the throw on one hop.
The Spikes led 4-0.
“The way our pitching looked today, I knew that was most likely going to be good enough to take us through nine and get us a ‘W,’” manager Oliver Marmol said. “Our staff did an excellent job tonight.”
It started with Schumacher.
The Missouri State product went four innings in each of his previous two starts. He’s worked to build off each week and was effective in 5 2/3 innings against Brooklyn.
Schumacher was sharp from the start, recording two strikeouts and needing just 11 pitches in a perfect first inning. He tallied two more strikeouts and threw 11 more pitches in a flawless second inning.
He allowed his first hit, a single by Tomas Nido, in the third, but immediately induced an inning-ending double play. He retired 16 of the first 17 hitters he faced before giving up back-to-back walks in the sixth.
“It definitely feels good to finally get out there and just put our team in the best situation to keep winning,” Schumacher said.
The Spikes rolled behind Schumacher’s effort.
Nielsen entered in the sixth and got the final out on a behind-the-back stab of a grounder up the middle by Joe Tuschak. The lone blemish for Spikes pitchers came in the eighth inning, when Brooklyn’s Tyler Moore led off with a triple against Nielsen and scored on a groundout.
Scanio struck out two in a perfect ninth to seal the win for Schumacher.
“He set the tempo early, located his fastball on both sides of the plate, was able to mix in his offspeed stuff for strikes,” Marmol said of Schumacher. “(He) kept them off balance and was able to give us a strong outing.”