The frustration boiled over in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Spikes third baseman Danny Diekroeger spiked his helmet after he was caught stealing at second base to end State College’s 16th straight scoreless inning. In the top of the eighth, Diekroeger had airmailed a throw to first to allow Hudson Valley’s second run to score.
State College fell 2-0 Sunday night, thanks to a pair of miscues and a second straight quiet night at the plate at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Spikes have been held scoreless by Hudson Valley in 17 straight innings. A passed ball and Diekroeger’s error led to two unearned runs for Renegades in State College’s third straight loss.
“A passed ball and an error cost us the game,” Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said.
The bullpen, which faltered the previous two nights, kept the Spikes within striking distance Sunday. Tyler Bray pitched 3 1/3 innings and allowed one run in relief, and Nick Lomascolo threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Spikes starter Trey Nielsen took the loss after giving up one run on three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He also struck out six and walked two.
The strong effort from all three pitchers wasn’t enough as State College went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. The shutout came one night after the Spikes went scoreless in the final eight innings of its loss to the Renegades (35-15) in the series opener.
The Spikes tried to strike first in the third inning with one out.
State College’s Darren Seferina drilled a line drive into right field with catcher Luis Cruz on second and center fielder Collin Radack on first. Marmol waved Cruz around third, but he was gunned down by Hudson Valley right fielder Bralin Jackson.
Marmol said he’s not sure what’s holding back his lineup beyond effective pitching performances by Hudson Valley (35-15).
“We’re taking a lot of pitches in the zone, that’s one thing,” Marmol said. “I think we can be a little bit more aggressive. As far as stringing things together, I have no clue.”
The lone highlight for State College (32-18) came on the mound.
Nielsen provided a quality start before Bray entered with runners on first and second and one out in the fifth.
After a groundout moved Hudson Valley’s Hunter Lockwood to third, Lockwood scored on a passed ball that hit Cruz’s glove and went to the backstop.
Bray then faced a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth. State College pitching coach Dernier Orozco came to the mound to talk to Bray before he faced Hudson Valley’s Coty Blanchard.
“He was just like, ‘Calm down, you can do this, just trust in what our scouting report says and stay away and if they hit a ground ball, they hit a ground ball,’” Bray said.
Bray got the ground ball he needed to start an inning-ending double play. State College still trailed 1-0.
With two outs in the bottom half, Hudson Valley’s Jackson saved another run, this time protecting the Renegades’ one-run lead. State College’s Chase Raffield sent a sinking liner to right field with Jake Stone on second, but Jackson made a diving grab to end the threat.
State College didn’t threaten in the final three innings.
“When it’s punchout, punchout, groundout, people are going down 1-2-3, it’s kind of contagious as well,” Marmol said. “There’s not a whole lot of energy in the dugout and it’s something you have to overcome and we got to be mentally tougher than that, which this club, at times, they’ve shown that. But we need to be better.”
A potential comeback became more daunting when Hudson Valley added an insurance in the eighth.
The run scored on an errant throw by Diekroeger on a bunt single by Jace Conrad. Diekroeger made another throwing error on a ground ball in the ninth.
“Sometimes he just forces errors,” Marmol said. “There’s certain plays where you don’t have a play and you just eat the ball. You can’t force an error. Even if you throw well, the guy’s safe anyway, so might as well not take the risk and on one of those plays he forced an error and then ground ball, routine. He was thinking about it and throws it away.”
Notes: State College closes out its series against Hudson Valley on Monday at 7:05 p.m. … State College left-hander Ian McKinney (1-1, 6.17) will face Hudson Valley lefty Oscar Armenta (3-1, 3.79). … The Spikes have an off day Tuesday before starting a six-game road trip Wednesday at Lowell.