The ball sliced closer and closer to the left field line with Brooklyn’s Michael Katz charging hard.
It dropped and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double by State College’s Danny Diekroeger. Katz threw his arms out in left field, expecting it to be ruled a foul ball. Cyclones catcher Adrian Abreu held his arm out, signaling he felt it was foul as well.
Spikes cleanup hitter Alex De Leon saw it differently from the on-deck circle and came to the plate with teammates on second and third in the seventh inning.
“Obviously, I’m going to say fair ball either way,” De Leon said, “but it was good to see that. Once that landed, I had the mindset of I need to get these runners in.”
De Leon delivered with a single through the left side of the infield to score what proved to be the winning run in State College’s 4-3 win over Brooklyn at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday night.
The Spikes’ top four hitters in the lineup each finished with two hits to power the offense in the victory, capturing the final two games of the three-game series and earn the team its ninth win in the last 10 games.
De Leon went 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Darren Seferina, Robelys Reyes and Diekroeger each finished 2 for 4, and all three scored once.
“That’s huge,” Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said. “That’s what you expect out of the top of your lineup — expect a little more out of the bottom of the lineup — but those guys at the top carried us today and every day is a little different. Today it definitely helped.”
State College reliever Kyle Grana pitched 2 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit and one walk and striking out five to earn the win. Joe Scanio recorded the final two outs with two on to pick up the save.
De Leon put State College on the board in the first inning.
After Robelys Reyes pushed a bunt single to second base and Diekroeger dropped a single into left field, De Leon crushed a shot to left-center field.
For a moment, De Leon thought it may be gone, but it hit the base of the base of the wall at the 410-foot mark.
“Then I realized where I hit it,” De Leon said. “I thought I hit it good enough to get it out of the yard, but I hit it to the 410 spot, so the ball doesn’t leave that part of the field too often.”
Reyes and Diekroeger scored, but the two-run lead was short-lived.
Brooklyn capitalized on State College’s brutal defensive inning in the top of the second to take a 3-2 lead.
The Cyclones loaded the bases and scored their first run on a passed ball, they tied it on a wild pitch by State College starting pitcher Austin Gomber and they took the lead after a throwing error by Diekroeger at third.
“We were sloppy early, made some errors early, gave them a couple runs there,” Marmol said. “They were able to fight back, put together some good at bats and they made some nice defensive plays later on in the game and gave us a chance to go ahead and score that last one there for the win.”
The Spikes had a chance to go ahead with De Leon at the plate in the fifth.
But with the bases loaded and one out, De Leon struck out swinging on a fastball. Rowan Wick then popped out to third base to end the inning with the score still tied.
De Leon made the most of his next opportunity, sending a single into left field to score Seferina, who led off with a bunt single, giving State College a 4-3 lead.
“Those guys did a great job all night and set the table for me,” De Leon said. “And actually my third at bat, I had bases loaded with one out and I didn’t get the job done. I got an opportunity to get the runs in the next time around, so I definitely had that in mind.”
The Spikes closed it out behind an impressive defensive play in the eighth and Scanio’s save in the ninth.
Reyes went to his knees and made a backhanded stop at shortstop on a sharply hit ball by Abreu. Seferina waited at second for Reyes’ throw and made the turn in time for an inning-ending double play.
In the ninth, Marmol turned to Scanio to close it out with runners on first and second and one out. And he did, getting a lineout to right field and check-swing groundout to first.
“Any situation, you just got to try and get ahead and make good pitches,” Scanio said. “I got pretty lucky there, the guy hit the ball pretty hard, and luckily Wick got in the way of that thing.”