The usually reliable State College bullpen imploded in the eighth inning as Mahoning Valley rallied to a 3-2 New York-Penn League victory against the Spikes on Monday at Eastwood Park.
Trailing by a run, the Scrappers scored twice in a bizarre inning which featured four walks, two hits, a balk and two runners thrown out at the plate.
Mahoning Valley, which had been held to three hits over the first seven innings, began its comeback thanks to wildness from Spike reliever Jacob Booden, who replaced Jeff Rauh to start the eighth. Booden walked leadoff hitter Josh McAdams, who advanced to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Booden then walked Juan De La Cruz.
Kyle Grana, who entered the contest with a sparkling 0.54 ERA, balked home McAdams to tie the game at 2-2 and eventually walked Ordomar Valdez to put runners at first and second. Austin Fisher then lined a single to right, but Nick Thompson gunned down De La Cruz at the plate to keep the game tied.
Valdez and Fisher moved up to second and third on the throw. After an intentional walk to Greg Allen, Steve Patterson singled to left to drive in Valdez with the game-winning run.
Then after a pitch in the dirt, Fisher tried to score but was cut down on a throw from catcher Luis Cruz to Grana. The State College closer (3-1) then whiffed Leo Castillo to end the wild inning.
The Pinkney Division leading Spikes (30-14) had a chance to tie it in the ninth. Kenneth Peoples-Walls lined a double to left-center field with one out. But as they had most of the game, the Spikes failed to deliver with a runner in scoring position. Mahoning Valley reliever Luke Eubank struck out Cruz and Chase Raffield to end the game to get his first save. State College finished 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
The Spikes wasted an outstanding start by Trey Neilsen. The right-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and facing the minimum 12 batters.
State College grabbed an early 2-0 lead. Collin Radack led off the second with a double and scored on a two-out double by Cruz. With two outs in the third, Thompson walked and raced around to score when Alex De Leon’s single was booted by left fielder Taylor Murphy.
Mahoning Valley (19-25) cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth. Valdez belted a one-out triple off Rauh and scored on Fisher’s groundout.
Eight different Spikes had a hit apiece and five of them were doubles. Patterson and Fisher each had two of the Scrappers’ five hits.
The three-game series concludes Tuesday. Ian McKinney (0-1, 3.60 ERA), who returned to the Spikes after going 2-0 at Johnson City, will start for State College against Mahioning Valley’s Juan Santana (0-5, 3.76).